More Americans will be traveling to see their families over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, according to an annual travel forecast by AAA.
Approximately 42.2 million travelers plan on taking trips at least 50 miles from home this year, an 11.4% increase from 2009 when 37.9 million Americans headed out for the holidays.
AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight about the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday travel period, defined as Wednesday, Nov. 24 to Sunday, Nov. 28.
According to AAA, the increase in holiday travel appears to be the result of modestly improved economic conditions from 2009. The forecast cites an increase in gross domestic product, real disposable personal income and household net worth combined with a decrease in consumer debt.
“While Americans remain cautious with household budgets and discretionary spending amidst high levels of unemployment, many are in a better financial position this Thanksgiving than a year ago,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “This improvement, along with a strong desire to spend time with friends and family, is expected to propel a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel.”
While the overwhelming majority of travelers will use a car to reach their friends and family, research did show a boost in holiday fliers this year: 1.62 million passengers are expected to fly during the holiday weekend. Last year, 1.57 million people travelled by plane.
The 3.5% increase is significant when you consider that the cost of airfare during the holidays is more expensive this year. In October, Travelocity released data that showed the average domestic airfare during the Thanksgiving holiday had gone up 10% from 2009.