1.3 million Michigan residents to travel during Thanksgiving holiday, says AAA

Wednesday before Thanksgiving to be busiest travel day

Nov 20, 2013, 10:00 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 1.3 million Michigan residents will travel 50 miles or more from home during the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday period, on par with last year, says AAA Michigan.  They join 43.4 million Americans who will travel nationally – a dip of 1.5 percent – according to AAA's survey.  The holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

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Vehicle travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation.  Ninety percent of Michigan travelers will go by vehicle, up 1 percent from last year.  Nationally, 90 percent of holiday travelers will also go by vehicle.  Michigan travelers can expect to pay $3.23 per gallon for gas (as of November 20), 23 cents less than last year and the cheapest gas price for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010.

In Michigan, seven percent of travelers will go by air, slightly less last year, while the remaining three percent will go by train or bus. 

The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year, with many off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends.  The majority of travelers (37 percent) surveyed plan to leave that Wednesday, with 33 percent planning to return the following Sunday.  Another 24 percent expect to return on Monday, Dec. 2 or later.

While many travelers stay with family or friends during the holiday, those needing hotel rooms will find rates for AAA Three Diamond or mid-range lodgings are expected to average $142 per night, compared to $143 last year. Based on a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans this holiday will be 601 miles, up 2.2 percent.  Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease from last year's $498.

Thanksgiving holiday travel is typically less expensive than other holiday travel because of the emphasis on the Thanksgiving meal and family gatherings.

According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving airfares are comparable to last year, with the average lowest round-trip rate $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, compared to $188 last year.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Roads and airports will be busy – AAA advises travelers to allow extra time to get to their destination.  The holiday coincides with Michigan's firearm deer hunting season, with an estimated 700,000 hunters expected to be on the roads November 15 through November 30.

During last year's holiday period, Michigan State Police report there were nine fatal crashes resulting in nine fatalities on Michigan roads.  Three of those were not wearing seat belts.  Two of the crashes involved alcohol.  AAA reminds motorists to be well rested and avoid alcohol if driving.

Holiday motorists should also make sure their vehicles are winter ready – and carry a winter emergency kit – including snow brush, shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, first aid kit and gloves, hats and blankets.  Motorists should also keep their gas tank near full to prevent fuel line freeze-up during winter weather.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.  AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.  The complete AAA /IHS Global Insight 2013 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.