HAMILTON–AAA projects over one million New Jerseyans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. While the 43.3 million traveling nationwide represents a small but continued increase, New Jersey numbers have remained stable. The 2012 Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.
The impact of the Hurricane Sandy has been significant throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, especially the hardest hit areas of New Jersey and New York. Extensive storm damage, long-term power outages, and gasoline shortages have left many in the region to rethink, readjust or even cancel Thanksgiving holiday travel plans.
“The true impact that Sandy has had on travel in New Jersey and the Northeast is difficult to predict, while many residents may cancel travel plans, many others may change travel plans to accommodate or assist displaced friends and family,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Additionally, rental car shortages in the region are an added challenge many travelers may face. “Rental cars have become a coveted commodity by those who lost vehicles in the storm.” Noble said. “While rental car companies are gathering resources and bringing in cars from out of state to fill the gap the added demand for cars during a holiday week is presenting a challenge. AAA recommends contacting your rental car agency to ensure your reservation; many rental car providers have growing waitlists.”
While many New Jerseyans are still committed to traveling this holiday, many are looking for alternatives modes of transportation, there was over a 10 percent increase in travel by other modes of transportation compared to automobile or air travel. This comes at the same time as Americans are looking for ways to economize budgets. Median spending is expected to drop 10 percent and the average distance fell to 588 miles, down from 706 miles last year.
AAA’s survey was conducted prior to Hurricane Sandy and actual travel numbers may end up varying greatly.
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will drop to between $3.25-3.40 a gallon by the holiday, similar to last year’s average of $3.32, which was the most expensive average ever on Thanksgiving. Despite the historically high prices paid by motorists this year, the national average has declined by nearly 40 cents a gallon since early October and should continue to drop through the end of the year. The national average price of gas for Thanksgiving from 2007-2011 is $2.75 a gallon.