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Safe travels for Thanksgiving


The auto safety organization AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

This year's increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.

"One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving," said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington Spokesperson. "Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are on the decline again, at $2.67 as a Washington state average. We are expecting busy roads in the Pacific Northwest, with Seattle being one of the top ten destinations for holiday travelers."

Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving

The vast majority-more than 89 percent-of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers.

Thanksgiving gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade

Today's Washington state average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.67, 15 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.52), but a few cents cheaper than a month ago. While it's not the case locally, most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008.

Thanksgiving airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed

According to AAA Travel, airfares are projected to increase 21 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $205 for a roundtrip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $123. Daily car rental rates will average $52, 13 percent lower than last Thanksgiving.

Many travelers will journey west this Thanksgiving

This year's top destinations for Thanksgiving include many popular west coast cities, as well as perennial family-friendly favorites. The most popular destinations this Thanksgiving, based on bookings, are:

1.       Las Vegas, Nevada

2.       San Francisco, California

3.       San Diego, California

4.       Orlando, Florida

5.       New York City, New York

6.       New Orleans, Louisiana

7.       Anaheim, California

8.       Fort Lauderdale, Florida

9.       Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

10.   Seattle, Washington

AAA will rescue thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving

Nationally, AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists this Thanksgiving. In Washington and northern Idaho alone, AAA expects to rescue around 6,300 motorists, with the primary response being a tow, lockout services and battery replacement or boost. Last year, AAA Washington received more than 460 calls above the holiday average due to colder temperatures. With winter weather imminent, AAA recommends that motorists check the condition of their battery and tires, and pack emergency kits in their vehicles, before heading out on a holiday or Apple Cup road trip. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 250 local Washington AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA also has a mobile app available at

About the travel forecast:

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS 2016 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast can be found at


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