Thanksgiving travel Is no turkey this year, says AAA

Americans will fly the coop in record numbers this Thanksgiving, thanks in part to the lowest fuel prices in nearly four years, according to AAA Southern New England.

This year, an estimated 46.3 million Americans — 4.2% more than last year  — are expected to hit the road or fly the skies, making the holiday weekend of November 26-30 one of the busiest travel periods of the year, according to the AAA’s annual holiday survey.

Of the overall number, more than 89% — or 41.3 million people — plan to travel more than 50 miles by motor vehicle. Air travel is also expected to be at its highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.

Dropping gas prices are a a plus

Nationwide, motorists have been enjoying fuel prices the lowest they’ve been in four years.

As of Nov. 20, the national average price for a gallon of regular was $2.85, which is 43 cents lower than the average price of $3.28 on Thanksgiving one year ago. This is the first time since November 2010 the national average has fallen below the $3 mark.

Average Connecticut prices have also been a welcome relief for road trippers here, where the statewide price of $3.17 on Nov. 20 was 43 cents lower than the same time last year.

Rental cars, hotels, airfare costs are up

In other survey highlights:

— Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares being 1% higher, mid-range hotels up 8%, and car rentals costing 10% more.

— The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip, and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.

However, travelers from New England tend to stay a little closer to home than some other parts of the country, so this region expects to see a 3.9% increase in overall travel compared to 2013.

— Despite lower gas prices, travelers will allocate 31% of their budget to fuel while food and beverage will account for 22% and shopping to 20%.

— A vast majority of Americans, 89% of those surveyed, will spend time with family and friends.

About the survey and the Triple A

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The American Automobile Association has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

AAA Southern New England is a nonprofit auto club with 3.5 million members in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. It offers travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

— as edited by Brad Durrell for the Shelton Herald