Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Tue November 17 2015

AAA Expects 46.9 Million Americans to Travel for Thanksgiving

Features & Advice | Donald Wood | November 17, 2015

AAA Expects 46.9 Million Americans to Travel for Thanksgiving

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AAA has revealed its annual Thanksgiving travel study, and it forecasts an astounding 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday.

That is a slight increase over the 46.6 million people who traveled last year.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Sunday, Nov. 29, and this year there is expected to be 300,000 additional holiday travelers. This will be seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel.

Several factors are playing into the increased number of travelers, including steady wage growth, rising disposable income and a falling unemployment rate. Another factor is the price of fuel, which is down from 2014. With more than 89 percent of holiday travelers driving to Thanksgiving, the cheaper gas prices are a plus.

AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney released a statement, saying, “This Thanksgiving, more Americans will carve out time to visit friends and family since 2007. While many people remain cautious about the economy and their finances, many thankful Americans continue to put a premium on traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones.”

During the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, almost 42 million people in the United States will travel via road trip, a 0.7 percent increase over 2014. On the other hand, 3.6 million Americans will fly to their holiday destinations, and another 1.4 million will travel via cruises, trains and buses this year, down 1.4 percent.

For those flying, AAA’s Leisure Travel Index indicates that airfares are projected to decrease 10 percent this Thanksgiving, with average prices of $169 roundtrip across the top 40 domestic flight routes.

As for hotels and car rentals, the average rate for a two-star hotel has risen 4 percent with an average nightly cost of $118, and car rental rates are expected to average $60 per day, an 8 percent increase from last year.

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