AAA forecasts 43.4 million Americans (13.6 percent of the population) will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent compared to last year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.
The sluggish pace of the economic recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers. Still, travel volume falls just shy of last Thanksgiving's four-year peak.
Here are some quick facts about Thanksgiving travel:
43.4 million – number of total travelers nationally during holiday period, a decrease of 1.5 percent compared to 2012.
7.1 million – number of Thanksgiving travelers in the Pacific Region (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii), a decrease of 2.8 percent compared to 2012.
Busiest travel day – Wed., Nov 27 – 37 percent will leave that day.
Automobile travel remains dominant mode – 90 percent plan to go by car: 39 million will drive, a 1.6 percent decrease compared to 2012. In the Pacific Region, 86 percent plan to go by car with 6.1 million driving, a decrease of 3.3 percent.
Impact of gas prices on travel – AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. But the decline is not expected to significantly spur travel volumes.
Air travel decreases – 3.1 million will fly nationally, a decrease of 3.7 percent. In the Pacific Region, 720,000 will take to the skies, a decrease of 5 percent from last year. Airfares are similar to last year.
Hotel rates hold steady, car rental rates increase
Average travel distance – 601 miles nationally, up from 588 last year. In the Pacific Region, average distance is 795 miles, down from 887 miles in 2012.
Median spending – down 6.6 percent to $465 nationally, compared to $498 a year ago. In the Pacific Region, it is $681, down from $767 last year.
Most important activities – spending time with family and friends, 67 percent; dining, 56 percent; shopping 44 percent.