DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 1.33 million Michigan residents will travel 50 miles or more from home during the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday period, up nine percent from last year, says AAA Michigan. They join 42.5 million Americans who will travel nationally – up four percent – according to AAA's survey. The holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27.
"This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year," noted AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner. "Despite the uncertain economy, our projected increase shows more travelers are choosing visiting family and friends over frugality this holiday."
Vehicle travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation. Ninety percent of Michigan travelers will go by vehicle, down from last year's ninety-four percent. Nationally, 90 percent of holiday travelers will also go by vehicle, a four percent increase. Michigan travelers can expect to pay $3.38 per gallon for gas (as of November 17), 40 cents higher than last year.
In Michigan, eight percent of travelers will go by air (up from four percent), while nationally eight percent will also fly. Two percent of state travel will be by other modes, including rail and bus.
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 expected to increase six percent, with travelers spending an average $145 per night, compared to $136 last year. Based on a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans this holiday will be 706 miles, down 13.5 percent. Median spending is expected to be $554, up 12 percent. However, 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 expected to be 20 percent higher than last year with the average lowest round-trip rate of $212 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $37, down 11 percent.
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 some 700,000 hunters expected to be on the roads through November 30.
During last year's holiday period, there were nine fatal crashes resulting in 10 fatalities on Michigan roads. Three crashes involved alcohol. Three of the victims were not wearing safety belts.
Holiday motorists should 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 2011 Thanksgiving holiday forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.
SOURCE AAA Michigan