AAA today predicted the number of Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday will increase 11.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 42.2 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday. The 2010 Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wed., November 24 to Sun., November 28.


Trips by automobile remain the dominant mode of transportation for holiday travel nationwide with 94 percent of travelers, or 39.7 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 12 percent from last Thanksgiving when 35.5 million Americans drove. Auto travel’s share of total travel over Thanksgiving this year, 94 percent, is the highest it’s ever been for a major holiday, according to AAA’s recorded history.


AAA today predicted the number of Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday will increase 11.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 42.2 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday. The 2010 Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wed., November 24 to Sun., November 28.

Trips by automobile remain the dominant mode of transportation for holiday travel nationwide with 94 percent of travelers, or 39.7 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 12 percent from last Thanksgiving when 35.5 million Americans drove. Auto travel’s share of total travel over Thanksgiving this year, 94 percent, is the highest it’s ever been for a major holiday, according to AAA’s recorded history.

Leisure air travel is expected to account for four percent of overall travel in the U.S. with 1.62 million Americans expected to fly, an increase of 3.5 percent from last year’s 1.57 million flyers. Trips by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft, will be the dominant means of travel used by two percent of all travelers.
 

The Oklahoma story

Oklahoma is following the national travel trend this Thanksgiving. AAA is projecting 11.5 percent more Oklahomans will travel over the holiday this year compared to last year, with 532,500 expected to drive, a 12.1 percent increase, and 48,000 predicted to board airplanes, 3.5 percent more than a year ago.

“While Americans remain cautious with household budgets and discretionary spending amidst high levels of unemployment in some regions of the country, many are in a better financial position this Thanksgiving than a year ago,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “This improvement, along with a strong desire to spend time with friends and family, is expected to drive a big increase in Thanksgiving travel.”

The forecasted double-digit increase in Thanksgiving holiday travel nationwide signifies a significant upturn in travel volume after a year of negligible growth in 2009 (0.2 percent) and two years after a historic 25.2 percent decline in travel in 2008. While the forecast for an 11.4 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel is dramatic, the increase in the number of travelers by 4.3 million is less than half of the volume lost from 2007 through 2009. This year’s expected travel volume of 42.2 million Americans is almost 30 percent below the 2005 peak of 58.6 million travelers.

AAA has forecast an increase in travel for each of the travel holidays this year. In addition to the forecast, AAA travel agents are continuing to report strong increases in the number of travelers making advanced reservations. Hotel, car and vacation package reservations for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday are up more than ten percent compared to last year.
 

Help on the highway

AAA reminds travelers that the motor club offers a variety of trip planning tools including:

 

• Free printed TourBook guides and maps for members

• The online AAA TripTik Travel Planner, available free to all travelers at www.AAA.com

• Three free mobile applications that offer on-the-go access to AAA travel information and services:

• The AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app provides updated gas prices, maps and directions functionality, and information on AAA Approved hotels, restaurants and attractions.

• The AAA Roadside iPhone app through which AAA members can request emergency road service by quickly sending their location, vehicle description and specific breakdown details directly to AAA without placing a phone call.

• The AAA Discounts iPhone app, which has been downloaded more than 900,000 times, uses GPS technology to identify a user’s location and displays nearby businesses that offer members AAA Show Your Card & Save discounts. A version of the AAA Discounts app is also available for Android-platform smartphones.


The iPhone apps are available for download from the Apple iTunes Store, and the Android app is available for download from the Android Market.
 

Fuel prices are higher than one year ago

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report (www.FuelGaugeReport.com), the national average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline today is $2.893 compared with $2.834 a month ago and $2.631 one year ago

The Oklahoma average price is currently $2.736 per gallon, eighth lowest in the country. One month ago, the Oklahoma statewide average stood at $2.705 and a year ago, it was $2.485.

With nearly 40 million travelers expected on the roads nationwide this Thanksgiving, history tells us many will experience roadside breakdowns or other automotive problems during their journey. To help avoid car trouble and unnecessary delays, AAA recommends motorists perform several key car care tasks at least one week prior to hitting the road to allow time to address any issues they may uncover. Some basic items most travelers can check themselves include tire tread, tire pressure, wiper blades, battery connections and fluid levels under the hood, such as engine oil, brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid, anti freeze and windshield washer solvent.

AAA also advises travelers whose vehicles are due or past due for regularly scheduled maintenance to have a qualified technician inspect their vehicle prior to a road trip. The AAA Approved Auto Repair program is a free public service that helps consumers find quality auto repair shops they can trust. More in-depth automotive tips for holiday travelers are available at www.AAA.com/news.


Change in the average Thanksgiving traveler demographics

Lower household income and younger age groups tend to be more sensitive to economic downturns and, therefore, retracted more during the recession than older and higher household income groups. As the economy improves, individuals across the board benefit.

Results of the AAA survey of intended travelers reveal that the share of expected travelers in the under $50K household income bracket has risen from 40.4 percent in 2009 to 41.5 percent in 2010, and the share of intending travelers in the 18-34 year old category has increased from 28.1 percent in 2009 to 30.5 percent in 2010.
 

Median spending projected to be $495; average distance traveled 816 miles

Based on a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans this Thanksgiving holiday is expected to be 816 miles, virtually the same as one year ago (815 miles). Median spending is expected to be $495, about the same as last year when median spending was $494.

Thanksgiving travel tends to be less expensive compared to other travel holidays because of its emphasis on the Thanksgiving meal and the gathering of friends and family. A majority of survey respondents (82 percent) reported that the main purpose of their upcoming trip was a visit with friends or family.