AAA Expects Slight Hike in Holiday Travel
Travelers this Thanksgiving are facing record high gas prices for November but they will not be deterred from seeing friends and family this holiday. AAA estimates that 38.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a modest 1.5% increase from last year’s 38.1 million travelers.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time for people to visit friends and family, so as expected the vast majority of this year’s travelers expect to stay at a friend or relative’s home. Hotels and motels are usually the second choice of lodging for Thanksgiving travelers followed by cabin/condo and camper/trailer/RV/tent.
“The interesting trend this holiday season is gas prices,” said Gail Weinholzer, public affairs director, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “This is the first time that we have seen gas prices topping more than $3 a gallon in November. A year ago prices were in the range of $2.20 a gallon, so this year travelers are really feeling the pinch. But Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for family gatherings and higher gas prices will not discourage Americans from connecting with their loved ones.”
This is consistent with historical data, which shows that high gas prices do not generally keep people from traveling by car.
Approximately 31.2 million travelers (80% of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 1.3% increase from the 30.8 million who drove in 2006.
This holiday season AAA collected additional demographic information on holiday travelers and found some interesting results. The largest portion of holiday travelers, 43.3%, will travel with two to three other people from the same household, while 21.8% will be traveling with four or more people from their household. Another 34.8% will be traveling alone or with one other person from their household.
Survey data for this holiday also shows that people with children tend to travel with them. Of families with children, 71.1% will be taking their kids with them and 28.9% will be traveling without them. The region with the greatest percentage of family travelers is the West at 79.8%; followed by the Midwest at 74.2%; the Southeast at 68.5% and the Northeast at 65%.