VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (Nov. 15, 2016) – AAA projects that over 1.3 million (1,373,482) Virginians will be traveling 50 miles or less this Thanksgiving Holiday. This will represent a 3.7 percent increase from last year marking this year the biggest increase since 2007. Across the nation, there will be 48.7 million travelers for the holiday this year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. And despite recent incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.
“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving,” Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater. “Most will travel by road, thanks to continued low gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones.”
Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving
The vast majority—more than 89 percent—of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers. In Virginia, more than 90.5 percent will be traveling by automobile, a 3.9 percent increase from last year. About 99,390 Virginians will also be traveling by air, increasing by 2.7 percent from last year.
Thanksgiving gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade
Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.16, one cent less than last year’s price. Comparable to last year’s price, most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85. In Virginia, the current average price for gas is $2.02 which is ten cents less than a month ago, but 3 cents more than last year. Whereas, the average price for gas in Hampton Roads is $1.98,
which is 11 cents cheaper than last month and two cents more than last year. The bulk of America’s refining capacity is in the Southeastern United States and abundant supplies should keep prices relatively low heading into the holiday season, barring any unexpected disruptions in pipeline shipment or refinery schedules.
Thanksgiving airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to increase 21 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $205 for a roundtrip flight for the top 40 domestic routes.
Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $123. Daily car rental rates will average $52, 13 percent lower than last Thanksgiving.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia