Information provided by AAA:
AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 0.7 percent over the 43.3 million people who traveled last year. This increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.
Highlights from this year’s 2012 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:
- Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.6 million, an increase of 0.7 percent from the 43.3 million who traveled last year
- Ninety percent of travelers or 39.1 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.6 percent
- Holiday air travel to decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million in 2011
- Median spending expected to drop 10 percent to $498, compared to $554 last year. Spending remains consistent with historic averages as Americans continue to prioritize travel while finding ways to economize
- Average distance traveled to decline to 588 miles from 706 miles, due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and Americans desire to economize budgets
- Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water
“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday. Americans continue to find ways to economize their budgets so they can gather around the holiday table to carve the turkey.”
Impact of Hurricane Sandy in travel plans
The impact of the Hurricane Sandy has been significant throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, especially the hardest hit areas of NJ and NY. Extensive storm damage, long-term power outages, gasoline shortages and rationing have left many in the region to rethink, readjust or even cancel Thanksgiving holiday travel plans.
“While we do not yet know the full impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on travel from the Mid-Atlantic region, we do know that the impact for many Americans in that region is substantial,” continued Darbelnet.
AAA is advising travelers headed to or expecting guests from the Mid-Atlantic region for the Thanksgiving holiday to consider the following options:
- If planning to travel to NJ or NY, check in advance to be sure power has been restored and there are no road closures in or surrounding your destination.
- Invite family members who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy in NJ, NY and PA to visit family and friends away from the storm-damaged area. It’s an opportunity to relax, unwind and stock up on essentials.
- Holiday travel bookings have been slow in the aftermath of the storm, as people need to use discretionary spending on storm clean up and recovery.