Thanksgiving 2013: fewer travelers on the roads

Thanksgiving is still one of the biggest travel weeks of the year, but fewer people will hit the road this year than last, according to AAA. 

  • close
    A sign alerts travelers to expect holiday traffic at George Bush Intercontinental Airport last year in Houston. Thanksgiving travel will be busy as usual, but projections for both road and air travel are down slightly from last year.
    David J. Phillip/AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

If you live in the U.S. and plan to travel this holiday week, you're not alone. According to AAA, over 43 million Americans -- 43.4 million, to be exact -- are expecting to do the same.

That sounds like lots of traffic headaches in the making -- and in fairness, it probably is. But it's worth noting that AAA's 2013 travel projections are down slightly from last year, when 44 million Americans packed their bags.

The biggest drop will be seen in airline travel. AAA expects that 3.14 million Americans will fly the friendly skies this week -- a dip of 3.7 percent from the 3.26 million who flew last year.

Auto travel will be off, too. According to AAA projections, 38.9 million motorists will hit the road this holiday, 1.6 percent fewer than last year.

However, while fewer people may be traveling this week, those who do will be going farther. In 2012, Thanksgiving travelers journeyed an average of 588 miles round-trip. In 2013, that number is expected to jump to 601.

The nice news for motorists isn't just that they'll have more elbow room on the highway:gas prices will be lower, too. The current cost for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline is $3.28, but AAA notes that in many parts of the country, the price has slipped below $3.00.Thanksgiving gas prices haven't been that low since the fall of 2010.

The news isn't quite as good for those hoping to rent a car for the drive: rental rates are up six percent over Thanksgiving of 2013.  

AAA attributes the decline in travel -- both on the roads and in the skies -- to the sluggish U.S. economic recovery, which has made consumers nervous about shelling out for getaways. Then again, it might also have something to do with Americans' tendency to drive less nowadays

Americans: are you heading out this holiday week? If not, what's keeping you close to home? The cost? Work? Aunt Paula's unpalatable cranberry compote? If you've changed your traditional plans, we'd love to know why -- tell us all about it in the comments below.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.