1.1 million Marylanders expected to travel for Thanksgiving

More than 1.1 million Marylanders will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the most in more than a dozen years, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic projections.

It’s the fourth straight year the auto club has projected Thanksgiving travel volumes of more than 1 million people in Maryland. Roughly one in every six state residents are expected to go away between Wednesday and Sunday of the holiday weekend.

“As the economy continues to grow, along with wages, disposable income and household wealth, many Marylanders are feeling enough confidence to not hold back on spending, which is evident by this year’s robust holiday travel forecast,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Cooper Averella said in a statement.

Most will drive, and low gas prices could be playing a role in their decision, she said.

After hitting a high of $2.99 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline over Memorial Day weekend, the average price at the pump in Maryland had fallen to $2.37 as of Tuesday, according to AAA.

Prices have fallen 30 cents in the last month and 7 cents in the past week. The current average is within 5 cents of the lowest price this year, set March 9.

“Prices could drop even lower, especially if there is a surge in gasoline production after refiners fully restart units from the fall maintenance season, and oil prices continue to remain stable,” Averella said.

If possible, the 91 percent of travelers who are driving to their destinations should try to avoid the early evening commute period next week, which is expected to be the most congested, according to AAA, which worked with INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, on its projections. Sunday is expected to be busy, too.

To avoid the gridlock, Troy Brad, 30, of Glen Burnie, plans to leave for Virginia before sunrise Wednesday, between 5 and 6 a.m.

He’ll spend Thanksgiving with his children and his mother’s and sister’s households, about a dozen family members in total, at a time-share in Massanutten, Va., they bought this summer.

“The whole wolf pack,” Brad called his crew. “It’s going to be a nice family event.”

Kristina Turner will be one of more than 82,000 Marylanders expected to fly for Thanksgiving — although she is taking a little longer than a holiday weekend for her trip.

The 24-year-old, who lives in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, is headed to Portugal Tuesday for a three-week trip to Barcelona, Paris, London and Brussels with her boyfriend, Army Sgt. 1st Class Marion Brawley, during his time off from his deployment in Afghanistan, she said.

Turner said she is more excited to see Brawley than she is worried about long wait times at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

“It’s overdue!” she said.

Nearly 22,000 are expected to travel by train, bus, boat or other mode of transportation, which is roughly flat compared with last year, AAA said.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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