AAA Chicago: 43.4 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013

Online Staff Report

AURORA, Ill. — AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27, to Sunday, Dec. 1.

The total number of Illinois travelers will be 2.3 million, a 1.3 percent increase from 2012, with 2.08 million traveling by auto (down 1.3 percent from 2012) and 167,000 traveling by air (a 3.6 percent decrease from 2012). In Indiana, there will be 997,000 total travelers this year, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2012, with 896,000 traveling by auto (a 0.8 percent decrease) and 72,000 traveling by air (a 2.4 percent decrease). Gas prices are lower than 2012 as travelers take to the roads this weekend. In Illinois, the average cost of an unleaded gallon of gasoline is $3.27, and in Indiana, the cost is $3.20.

National highlights from the 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include the following:

Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year;

Ninety percent of travelers, or 38.9 million, to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent;

Median spending expected to drop nearly 7 percent to $465, compared to $498 last year;

The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year, Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.

Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012;

Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles; and

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27.

While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers, and therefore, AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year,” said AAA Regional President Brad Roeber. “Additionally, while we do not yet know the full impact that the recent tornadoes will have on travel from the areas affected across Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, we do know that the impact for many in that region is substantial. It is too early to determine how travelers across this region will alter their travel plans based on the recovery efforts under way.”

Posted Nov. 21, 2013

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