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AAA: 2017 Thanksgiving travel expected to be highest volume in a dozen years

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AAA predicts nearly 51 million Americans will hit the roads and skies this year

  AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.

The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.

“An uptick in the economy has given travelers plenty to be thankful for this year, and we expect travel to remain plentiful through the holidays” said Jim Lehman, President, AAA East Central. “Most Americans can enjoy time spent with friends and family.”

East South Central*Thanksgiving Forecast Highlights include:

  • Thanksgiving holiday travelers will total 2.97 million, an increase of 3.1% from the 2.88 million in 2016. 
  • 2.8 million will travel by automobile, up  3.1% from last year’s number of 2.75 million.
  • 96,000 people will fly to their destinations, up 4% from the previous year’s amount of 92,000.

*East South Central region includes KY, TN, AL, and MS.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices

While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road.  Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip.  Despite recent declines in the national average price for gasoline, the residual impact of recent months’ hurricanes linger.  Today’s national average price is $2.562, which is 41 cents more than last year.

Hotel rates and car rentals

Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176/night.  Conversely, the average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has decreased 5 percent with an average nightly cost of $117. Daily car rentals rates will average $70, 34 percent higher than last Thanksgiving.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists nationwide this Thanksgiving

AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists across the country this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues.  AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.  Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway

Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more.  Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants.  AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis.  Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit.  The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays.  AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.  The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.