Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Tue November 15 2016

AAA Projects Most Thanksgiving Travelers in Nearly a Decade

Features & Advice | Patrick Clarke | November 15, 2016

AAA Projects Most Thanksgiving Travelers in Nearly a Decade

PHOTO: Thanksgiving traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. (Photo via Flickr/Montgomery County Planning Commission) 

Approximately 48.7 million Americans are expected to take to the roads and skies this Thanksgiving, according to AAA's annual projection based on research from IHS Markit.

The figure represents a nearly 2 percent increase from 2015 and signals the highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The notable jump in holiday travelers can be attributed to rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence, according to AAA.

Unsurprisingly, a majority of Americans — roughly nine out of 10 — will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations this fall, while about 3.69 million will fly. The remaining 1.44 million Americans are expected to use other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

The 43.5 million Americans expected to road trip this holiday would be the most since 2005. Although gas prices are up slightly from this time last year, Americans will still benefit from the second-cheapest prices at the pump since Thanksgiving 2008.

READ MORE: Tips for Thanksgiving Travelers

Of those projected to drive, AAA expects to come to the aid of 0.8 percent this holiday, with dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts being the most likely reasons.

"One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving," AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said in a statement. "Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones."

Based on AAA bookings, Las Vegas is the most popular Thanksgiving destination this year, followed by San Francisco and San Diego. Orlando, Florida and New York City round out the top five for 2016.

Trailing the Theme Park Capital of the World and the Big Apple are New Orleans; Anaheim, California; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Philadelphia and Seattle.

AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday travel period as Nov. 23 through Nov. 27 and defines Thanksgiving travelers as Americans who will travel 50 miles or more from home.

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