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More Americans hitting the road for Thanksgiving

By Staff | Nov 23, 2015

An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, with 2.41 million Floridians making the trip.

The AAA Auto Club Group is forecasting a 0.6 percent increase in travelers over last year’s total of 46.6 million nationwide and a 0.9 percent rise in-state. In 2014, about 2.39 million Floridians traveled. With 300,000 additional travelers nationwide, this makes it the seventh consecutive year of growth.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday to Sunday.

“We’re looking at the most traveled Thanksgiving in eight years,” Mark Jenkins, spokesman for the AAA Auto Club Group. “Primarily, because of gas prices being so much lower than last year.”

Gas is approximately 70 cents cheaper than it was during the same time in 2014.

“It’s the lowest in seven years,” he said.

Other factors resulting in the rise in travelers include improvements in the economy, a steady wage growth, rising disposable income and a falling unemployment rate, according to AAA officials.

“But right now, consumers are still a little cautious,” Jenkins said.

An anticipated 41.9 million Americans will travel by vehicle, a 0.7 percent increase over last year’s 41.6 million. Air travel is expected to rise by 0.1 percent, with 36 million people taking to the sky.

Airfares are projected to decrease by 10 percent, landing at an average of $169 roundtrip.

Officials reported that what day and what time one leaves can be of importance.

“The busiest travel times are typically between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.,” he said of motorists.

Most will have left yesterday or today, with the majority returning home on Sunday.

To avoid congestion on the roadways, plan to hit the road early.

“AAA would recommend that people leave before 2 p.m.,” Jenkins said. “If you can leave in the morning, that would be better.”

Map out alternative routes, and program your vehicle’s GPS unit before leaving.

“That way your eyes can stay on the road,” he said.

Minimize the use of cell phones while driving the vehicle, and do not text.

“Don’t be eating or drinking while you’re driving,” Jenkins said.

Other suggestions include checking your vehicle’s battery and tire inflation levels before leaving.

“We expect to rescue about 360,000 motorists over the holiday,” he said.

Vehicle lockouts are another common reason AAA is called on.

For those flying to their holiday destination this Thanksgiving, time and day also matter.

“You can find equally busy days in the airports, as well,” Jenkins said.

Most travelers will again have left yesterday or today, then return home on Sunday.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and through security.

“You’re likely to find beefed up security because of what’s happening recently,” he said.

According to AAA, travel by other modes of transportation – cruises, trains and buses – will decrease this year by 0.1 percent, to an estimated 1.4 million travelers this Thanksgiving.

For more information, visit: autoclubsouth.aaa.com.