AAA predicts 46.9 million Americans (more than 1.9 million Ohioans) will travel at least 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Wednesday, Nov. 25, to Sunday, Nov. 29. This is an increase of 0.6 percent (0.9 percent for Ohio) from last year, and marks the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2007.
Economic Impact on Travel:
Despite improvements in the economy, including steady wage growth, rising disposable income and a falling unemployment rate, consumers remain cautious about their finances. This is contributing to a smaller growth in travel than last year.
“While many people remain cautious about the economy and their finances, many thankful Americans continue to put a premium on traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president and chief operating officer.
Modes of Transportation:
Automobile travel remains the dominant form of transportation. Just over 89 percent, or 41.9 million Americans (more than 1.7 million Ohioans), will drive to their destination this holiday. This is an increase of 0.7 percent nationally and 1.1 percent in Ohio.
With so many travelers on the road, motorists can expect crowded roadways; especially on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 29, which are peak travel days. Breakdowns are also likely, as AAA expects to assist more than 360,000 motorists during the holiday weekend with dead batteries, flat tires, lockouts and other roadside breakdowns.
As Nov. 15-21 is Ohio’s Winter Safety Awareness Week, it’s the perfect time for motorists to ensure they have an emergency roadside kit stored in their trunk, just in case they become stranded. This kit can include items such as jumper cables, a blanket and warm clothes, a shovel, a first aid kit, kitty litter or sand, a flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food and water, a mobile phone and charger and road flares.
Air Travel volumes are expected to remain virtually unchanged nationally (up 0.1 percent), and decrease slightly (down 0.3 percent) in Ohio this holiday, with 3.61 million Americans, including nearly 145,000 Ohioans, flying this holiday.
Airfares are projected to decrease by 10 percent this Thanksgiving to an average of $169 round trip for the top 40 domestic flight routes, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Low gas prices are saving Americans an estimated $265 million each day compared to a year ago, which has helped boost disposable income and enabled more people to travel.
Most drivers will pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. During the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday travel period, gas prices averaged $2.79 nationally and $2.82 in Ohio.
Rising Hotel & Rental Car Costs:
While travelers will save on gas and airfares, they will pay slightly more for hotels and rental cars. AAA’s Leisure Travel Index predicts rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings will increase $1 to an average of $155 per night and rates for AAA Two Diamond hotels will increase $4 to an average of $118 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will increase $5 to an average of $60.