Highlights from 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:
•Thanksgiving holiday travel volume is expected to reach the highest level since 2007, with 46.3 million Americans taking a trip.
•The 2014 forecast is 4.2% higher than the 44.4 million Americans who traveled last year and the greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.
•Road trippers likely will pay the lowest Thanksgiving price for fuel in five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.85 per gallon, which is 43 cents lower than the average price for Thanksgiving a year ago ($3.28 per gallon).
•More than 89% of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3% increase from 39.6 million last year.
•Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.
•Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares one percent higher, mid-range hotels up eight percent and car rentals costing 10% more.
•The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.
AAA cites a boost in consumer confidence and an improving economy as key factors in the increase in travel this holiday. Lower fuel prices no doubt are also enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving.
Impact of Gasoline Prices on Travel Plans
The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22nd, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers likely will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. More than 89% (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3% increase from 2013.
Travel Expenses Rise Modestly
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 9% with an average cost of $114 per night.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10% higher than last year. Airfares will only increase 1%, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.
Most of Travelers’ Budgets go Toward Transportation, Food, and Shopping
Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31% of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22% and 20% of holiday travel budgets, respectively.
Travelers’ spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70% of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59% will go shopping. Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by I.H.S. Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.