Experts are predicting a travel boom in this year’s holiday season. A gradually recovering economy and lower gas prices mean more people than ever are traveling for Thanksgiving 2015, which means travelers can look forward to crowded airports and congested highways this year.
According to the American Automobile Association, 46.9 million Americans are expected to go 50 miles or more from home, the biggest number of travelers since 2007. That would be a 0.6% increase from 2014 and the seventh consecutive year of growth.
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While this continuing growth is a positive sign for the U.S. economy and the travel industry, this year’s projected total is still 7.3% shy of the 50.6 million high water mark hit in 2007.
More on Thanksgiving travel plans
Thanksgiving 2015 will be like every other major American holiday — around 90% of travelers will be driving.
AAA points out that the average retail price for gasoline in the U.S. is $2.15 per gallon, 74 cents less than this time last year. If you assume that the average car gets 18.5 miles per gallon, a family driving 300 miles should save close to $12 in fuel compared to 2014.
Lobbying organization Airlines for America is projecting that 25.3 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines this year, up 3 percent from last year. AAA’s projection anticipates fewer fliers because it examines at a five-day period while the airline group looks at the 12 days around the holiday
The cost of an airline ticket is only up 0.3% (a 69 cent average increase), based on data from the the Airlines Reporting Corp., a firm that tracks a broad variety of transactions for airlines and travel agencies.
Thanksgiving 2015 travel tips
Four tips for traveling by car this Thanksgiving
- Perform basic maintenance on your vehicle such as changing the oil and checking the tire pressure.
- Leave early to give yourself plenty of time.
- Drive slowly. Winter weather and crowded roads are a recipe for automobile accidents. Besides, they won’t start Thanksgiving dinner without you.
- Team drive if at all possible. Stop, stretch and change drivers at least every four or five hours.
Four air travel tips
- Get “protected” if there’s a delay. If your flight experiences a major mechanical problem, immediately call the airline to have it “protect” a seat for you on the next flight out. If the mechanical problem turns into a flight cancellation, you are already confirmed on a new flight.
- Buy a one-day pass to an airline club lounge. For starters, you can usually count on free drinks and light snacks. The biggest perk, however, is that the lounges are typically staffed with the best and most experienced ticket agents. That means that the lines are shorter and in many cases these experienced agents can find empty seats others can’t. On most cases, one-day airline lounge passes run around $50, but you can sometimes find a deal online.
- Weigh your luggage at home first. Keep in mind that any bags more than 50 pounds (40 pounds on some airlines) will result in an overweight surcharge, as well as the checked bag fee.
- Consider the possibility your carry-on bag will be checked. Even though you might not have planned to check a bag, given crowded overhead bins and full flights many air travelers today end up not having a choice. It’s a good idea to include a small canvas bag inside your carry-on bag so if you have to check it, you can take your personal items or valuables with you.