AAA estimates more Thanksgiving travelers this year in Oklahoma, nationwide
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
AAA, the leisure travel organization, forecasts 43.6 million U.S. residents will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 0.7 percent increase compared with the 43.3 million people who traveled nationwide last year.
In Oklahoma, 578,500 state residents are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holidays, up 1 percent from the same period in 2011, AAA said.
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined by AAA as Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25.
The projected increase in travelers over the Thanksgiving holidays is the fourth consecutive year of rising numbers since 2008, when Thanksgiving travel dropped by 25 percent, AAA officials said.
“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of Thanksgiving travelers. Americans continue to find ways to stretch family budgets so they can still gather around the holiday table.
“While we do not yet know the full impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on travel from the Mid-Atlantic region, we do know the impact for many in that region is substantial.”
AAA estimates 90 percent of all travel will be accomplished by car or pickup truck, an increase of 0.6 percent.
Holiday air travel nationwide will decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million last year. Air travel also is expected to decline 1.2 percent in Oklahoma, to 48,750 passengers, AAA said.
Median spending over the Thanksgiving holidays is expected to fall 10 percent, to $498, compared with $554 a year ago.
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will drop to between $325 and $3.40 a gallon by Thanksgiving Day, about the same as the $3.32 average price of a year ago, which was the highest average price ever on Thanksgiving.
Despite the historically high prices paid by motorists this year, the national average price has declined by nearly 40 cents per gallon since early October, and it is expected to drop through the end of the year, AAA said.
The national average price of gas at Thanksgiving from 2007-2011 was $2.75 a gallon.