AAA Reports Thanksgiving Travel to Increase About One Percent

Nov 17, 2005, 00:00 ET from AAA

    BURNSVILLE, Minn., Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Reduced consumer confidence and
 higher travel prices will slow the growth in American's travel plans but will
 not keep families home this Thanksgiving.  AAA projects that 37.29 million
 Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving
 holiday weekend.  This is a 0.8 percent increase above the 37 million who
 traveled last year.
     Approximately 30.84 million travelers (83 percent of all holiday
 travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 0.7 percent increase 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 last Thanksgiving when 4.59 million flew.
 A projected 1.81 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus or
 other mode of transportation, up slightly from 1.80 million a year ago.
     "Higher prices and sagging consumer confidence will make Thanksgiving
 travel growth a bit less robust this holiday, although airports and highways
 still be will as busy as ever," said Gail Weinholzer, AAA Minnesota/Iowa
 spokesperson.  "Prices for gasoline, hotel rooms and rental cars have
 increased, but that will not keep people from traveling.  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.
     In addition to higher pump prices, AAA's Leisure Travel Index reports
 holiday hotel rates are up 1.5 percent (at AAA-rated Three Diamond hotels) as
 strong demand allows hoteliers to increase rates that they raised last year,
 too.  Car rentals are increasing 3.2 percent from last year.
     The one exception to these higher prices is in airfares, where expanded
 service by low cost carriers on some routes has pushed fares down 4.8 percent
 on average.  However, many of these cheaper tickets were snapped up earlier
 than expected, as many people booked during the summer instead of waiting
 until September.
     The greatest number of Thanksgiving auto travelers will originate in the
 Southeast with 8.81 million; followed by the West, 7.05 million; Midwest,
 6.58 million; Great Lakes, 6.06 million; and Northeast, 2.34 million.
     The Southeast also is expected to produce the largest number of air
 travelers, with 1.27 million, followed by the West with 1.24 million, Midwest
 with 760,000; Northeast with 750,000 and Great Lake with 620,000.
     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.  Another 3 percent responded with other.
     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, other, 2 percent; no overnight stay,
 3 percent; and didn't know, 1 percent.
     Thanksgiving travel figures are based on a national telephone survey of
 1,383 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America.
     AAA ( ) offers automotive, travel, insurance and
 financial services to more than 45 million members in the United States and
 Canada.  AAA Minnesota/Iowa is part of The Auto Club Group, with 4.1 million
 members in eight Midwest states.