NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - AAA Travel reports nearly 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during Thanksgiving weekend this year. The holiday travel forecast marks the seventh consecutive year of growth, resulting in the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007, a 0.6 percent jump from the 46.6 million people who traveled last year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 29.
Ohio is part of AAA's East North Central Region, which also includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Holiday forecast highlights include:
- Thanksgiving holiday travelers total 7.92 million, an increase of 0.9 percent from the 7.83 million in 2014.
- 7.10 million will travel by automobile, up 1.1 percent from last year's number of 7.02 million.
- 596,000 people will fly to their destinations, down 0.3 percent from the previous year's amount of 598,000.
Lowest gas prices in seven years expected
AAA estimates that consumers are saving nearly $265 million on gasoline every day compared to a year ago. This has helped boost disposable income, enabling many Americans to travel this Thanksgiving. Most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Today's national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.13, 67 cents less than the average price on Thanksgiving last year at $2.80.
"One holiday gift has come early this year: Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008," said Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central. "With the decline in gas prices, more Americans can afford to drive to spend more time with loved ones near and far this holiday season."
Driving remains most popular mode of travel
Nearly 42 million Americans will take a holiday road trip this Thanksgiving, an increase of 0.7 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 0.1 percent, with 3.6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease 1.4 percent this Thanksgiving, to 1.4 million travelers.
Airfares fall, hotel and car rental rates rise modestly
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to decrease 10 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $169 round trip across the top 40 domestic flight routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain relatively flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen 4 percent with an average nightly cost of $118. Daily car rental rates will average $60, 8 percent higher than last Thanksgiving.
#AAAToTheRescue for thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 360,000 motorists this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the free AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.