AAA predicts national decline in Thanksgiving travel

Fewer Americans are expected to travel long distances for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday than last year, despite the lowest gas prices in years, AAA predicted Wednesday.

The driver advocacy organization, which tracks travel across the country, expects about 43.4 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent decline from last year.


That's despite gas prices falling to below $3 a gallon in many parts of the country.

"Although the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is dampening the confidence of many consumers," said Christine Delise, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman, in a statement. "For those traveling, the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices compared to last year."


About 90 percent of travelers, or about 38.9 million, are expected to travel by automobile, which is a slightly lower percentage than last year as well. But they will travel farther, AAA predicts, with the average distance about 601 miles this year compared to 588 last year.

Air travel is also expected to drop from 3.26 million travelers last year to 3.14 million this year, a 3.7 percent decline.

Median spending among travelers is expected to drop nearly 7 percent, from $498 last year to $465 this year, AAA predicts.

Airfares and hotel and car rental rates, meanwhile, are relatively flat compared to last year, AAA said, with average lowest round-trip air fare at $187, an average night at a two-diamond hotel at $105 per night, and the weekend daily car rental rate at $50.

Predictions specific to Thanksgiving travel in Maryland will be released Friday, AAA said.