Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Increase This Year

STATE –More than 1 million New Jersey residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this year, according to projections by AAA Mid-Atlantic.

For 2011, approximately 1,048,104 New Jersey travelers will take to the roads, rails and skies this year, representing a 2 percent increase from last year, AAA Mid-Atlantic says.

Most New Jersey residents – 89 percent – will travel by car. Nine percent of travelers – just over 99,000, will fly, a 0.2 percent decrease compared to 2010. Almost 15,000 travelers will use another mode, such as rail, a 12 percent increase from 2010.

This year, it’s estimated that 42.5 million Americans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, a four percent increase from 2010. While travel estimates continue to show improvement from one year ago, growth levels are not high enough to support a quick return to pre-recession levels of holiday travel. Rather a slow climb back is expected from 2008, which was a decade-low year for Thanksgiving travel with only 37.8 million Americans taking a trip. With volumes still below historical averages, demand will be a contributing factor in increased holiday travel, despite current economic conditions.

“The increase in Thanksgiving travelers is a result of pent-up demand from Americans who may have forgone holiday travel the last three years,” says Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “As consumers weigh the fear of economic uncertainty and the desire to create lasting family memories this holiday more Americans are expected to choose family and friends over frugality.”

Just a week out from the Thanksgiving holiday, motorists are left wondering what will happen to gas prices leading up to the busiest travel holiday of the year. The national average for regular grade gasoline dropped 6 cents this week to $3.38 on Friday. Prices are 9 cents below month ago prices but 49 cents above year-ago prices, yet 73 cents below the all-time high of $4.11 per gallon set in July 2008. Analysts believe national gas prices will remain above $3.30 per gallon through Thanksgiving and decline, albeit slightly, through the end of the year. In New Jersey, the average gas prices are at $3.28, up 43 cents from a year ago.

The 2011 Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

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