Number of people traveling up this Thanksgiving

Nov 21, 2012

The number of people traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday is up for the fourth straight year.  AAA says the economy and gas prices are two of the biggest factors affecting people's travel plans.

Central New York AAA spokeswoman Diana Dibble says the increase in Thanksgiving travel reflects the economy.  There has been an upward trend since 2008, when Thanksgiving travel dropped by 25 percent at the start of the recession.

"Really we've been seeing a slow steady increase in the number of people traveling since then," said Dibble. "Although it's a slight increase of 0.7 percent., it's still an increase, a move in the right direction, and it's an indication that Americans are still prioritizing travel.  They may be economizing while they're away, but their still putting a high priority on that."

Ninety percent of those travelers will drive, and the average distance traveled this weekend is expected to be 588 miles -- down from 706 miles last year.   

The yearly survey of travelers by AAA also shows gas prices continuing to fall. Drivers will find gas prices down about 20 cents in central New York from a month ago.  But Dibble adds that prices are still higher by about 25 cents a gallon from a year ago.

"It won't have a big impact on the volume of travelers, but because they are higher than they've been in the past few years, people may look to offset higher gas prices by spending less money in other areas while they're away," she said.

The day before Thanksgiving remains traditionally the busiest travel day of the holiday season.