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More Thanksgiving travelers will go by car in 2012

AAA predicts car travel for the holiday will be up for the fourth straight year.

By Douglas Newcomb Nov 14, 2012 12:21PM

After plummeting by 25 percent in 2008 at the start of the recession and slowly trending upward for the past three years, a greater number of Thanksgiving travelers will be packing the car and hitting the road in 2012, according to AAA.

“Thanksgiving travel is up this year, which shows that a desire to carve turkey with friends and family is trumping concerns about the economy,” Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA, told MSN Autos. “Americans continue to make travel a priority."


AAA projects that 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for their turkey dinner and that 90 percent of those will travel by automobile.  By contrast, holiday air travel is expected to decline, according to AAA, proving that Americans are still cost-conscious when it comes to holiday travel. The average distance traveled over Thanksgiving will decline from 706 miles in 2011 to 588 miles in 2012.


AAA estimates that gasoline will cost between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon by the holiday. This is in line with last year’s average, which was the most expensive average ever on Thanksgiving. But there's a silver lining for motorists: The national average has declined by nearly 40 cents a gallon since early October, and should continue to drop through the end of the year.


AAA also says that Thanksgiving rates for AAA Three Diamond hotels and motels are expected to decrease 1 percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared with $145 last year. But travelers staying at AAA Two Diamond hotels will likely pay 1 percent more, at an average cost of $104 per night. 


If you’re trying to plan your trip to avoid traffic, most travelers surveyed by AAA said they plan to leave the Wednesday before the holiday (45 percent) and return the following Sunday (36 percent); an additional 25 percent expect to return on Monday, Nov. 26.


[Source: AAA; Photo: Flickr/postopp1]

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