For the first time in years, my parent’s house in Northeast Ohio will not be the fulcrum of extended Olsen family Thanksgiving activity because we are all gathering at an undisclosed arid locale in December for a Christmas hoohaw in just a few weeks and the Virginia and California branches don’t much want to have to travel twice.
In addition, somewhat traumatically for me, my oldest daughter is going to her boyfriend’s Thanksgiving family gathering in Idaho, and my oldest son is joining his mother’s family for Turkey Day. So we are turning to the other trunk of the family tree and driving to my wife’s sister’s house in Maryland for the annual feastfest.
We will have some company out on the road this week. AAA projects that 37.29 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an slight increase from the 37 million who traveled last year. Approximately 30.84 million travelers (83 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to drive (up 0.7 percent from the 30.61 million who drove a year ago), another 4.64 million (12 percent) plan to go by airplane (up 1.3 percent from 4.59 million), and 1.81 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus, rickshaw, catamaran, dog sled, or other mode of transportation (from 1.80 million a year ago).
“Prices for gasoline, hotel rooms and rental cars have increased, but that will not keep people from traveling,” said Dawn Duffy, AAA spokesperson. “You’d be hard pressed to tell Grandma that you weren’t coming for Thanksgiving dinner just because it will cost an extra $10 to fill up the gas tank.”
Thanksgiving holiday travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.27 – down 47 cents in the past month, but still about 31 cents higher than a year ago, holiday hotel rates are up 1.5 percent, and car rentals are increasing 3.2 percent from last year.
However, airfares are down. Expanded service by low cost carriers on some routes has pushed fares down 4.8 percent on average. Many of these cheaper tickets were snapped up earlier than expected, however, as many people booked during the summer instead of waiting until September. We snagged our tickets for the December jaunt in September and got some very good rates.
Other Thanksgiving travel facts and figures from AAA: Small towns and rural areas top the list of preferred destinations, with 37 percent of the travel volume. Cities are the destination for 34 percent of travelers, followed by oceans and beaches, 10 percent; mountains, 10 percent; lakes, 3 percent; state/national parks, 2 percent; and theme/amusement parks, 1 percent. 3 percent will be visiting “other.” I hope they have fun.
Of the total Thanksgiving travelers, 55 percent will stay with friends or relatives and another 28 percent expect to stay at a hotel/motel. Other overnight plans include cabin/condo, 7 percent; camper/trailer/RV/tent, 2 percent; bed and breakfast, 2 percent; and other, 2 percent.
Have fun and travel safely.