Gas, traffic expectations for Thanksgiving travel - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Gas, traffic expectations for Thanksgiving travel

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AAA says 43.6 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, a slight increase from last year. AAA says 43.6 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, a slight increase from last year.

NEW YORK (NBC) - It's that time of year again. Millions of Americans will be hitting the roads and taking to the skies to spend time with family and friends. But tighter budgets mean slightly shorter trips this Thanksgiving.

It's Thanksgiving weekend and Americans are making travel plans.

"I'm going to California, gonna meet my daughter and we're driving to Santa Fe," says one west coast traveler.

"It's Thanksgiving, you wanna be with friends and family," agree a female flyer.

AAA says 43.6 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, a slight increase from last year. On average, they'll go 588 miles, down 16% from 2011. Those traveling are also spending less for their trips, just under $500. Economists say this is a reflection of tighter budgets.

"What we think is people having spent more on gas then they planned still want to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, but they are going to...favor the automobile over the airline ticket," predicts Robert Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO.

Because Americans are looking to spend less money traveling for Thanksgiving this year, fewer will be flying. In fact, AAA says the number of people expected to take to the air will be just over 3 million, the fewest since 2009.

While fewer people are flying for Thanksgiving, more will be boarding trains, buses and cruises ships. But the good old fashioned road trip in a car is how 90% of Americans will be getting away. The good news: gas prices have dropped to under $3.50 a gallon.

"We are down from the peak that we saw in September and prices for Thanksgiving will probably be just about where they were last year for Thanksgiving," claims Darbelnet.

If you are wondering what the busiest travel day of the holiday weekend will be, that's Tuesday, November 20.

Copyright 2012 NBC. All rights reserved. 

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