More folks are ready to go over the river and through the woods this holiday than they have since before the Great Recession, according to travel service estimates.
An American Automobile Association projection released last Thursday shows that 46.3 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, a 4.2 percent increase from last year’s 44.4 million Thanksgiving travelers.
That number is the highest since 2007, according to the AAA report.
Of those 46.3 million travelers, 89 percent, or 41.3 million, are expected to travel by road, a 4.3 percent increase from last year.
The 3.55 million people expected to travel by air also makes up the highest number of air travelers since 2007.
People who travel for Thanksgiving will go an average of 549 miles round-trip, according to the report, and spend an average of $573 over the weekend, 31 percent of which is for travel.
The study suggests one factor in the increased number of travelers is a dip in gas prices. Nationwide, average regular unleaded gasoline sells for $2.83 a gallon — 37 cents less than the $3.20 average last year, according to gasbuddy.com. The AAA study said this year’s national average is also the lowest Thanksgiving-time gas price since 2009.
According to gasbuddy.com, Utah’s average gas price on Friday was $3.05, higher than the national average but still lower than last year’s state average of $3.16.
While gas prices might be lower, other travel costs have risen, according to the AAA report. Hotel rates are expected to be an average of $154 per night, up roughly 8 percent from the average of $142 last year.
Also, weekend car rental rates are an average of $55 per day, according to the report, up 10 percent from last year. Airfare is also roughly 1 percent higher from last year, the report states.