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ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 46 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2-percent increase vs. 2013, AAA reported in its 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast. The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 30.
One main reason for the travel increase this year is lower gas prices. The national average for a regular gallon of gasoline was $2.85 as of Thursday, 43 cents lower than the $3.28 average price seen last year on Thanksgiving Day.
Due to low fuel prices, more than 89 percent (41.3 million) Thanksgiving weekend travelers will travel by car, a 4.3-percent increase compared to 2013. The average distance traveled will be 549 miles round trip, with Americans spending an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.
“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president and chief operating officer. “Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, gross domestic product and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”
Air travel is also expected to be at its highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies. However, airfares are 1 percent higher year over year, while mid-range hotels are averaging 8 percent higher compared to last year and car rentals are costing 10 percent more vs. 2013, reported AAA.