AAA sees decline in Thanksgiving travel

Even $3 a gallon gas likely won’t be enough to get more motorists on the road for Thanksgiving this year.

Auto club AAA is forecasting that Thanksgiving travel will decline slightly from a year ago, with 43.4 million Americans expected to take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home. That’s 1.5 percent shy of last Thanksgiving, when travel hit its highest level since the recession.

Air travel is expected to drop 3.7 percent, while the number of people driving is expected to fall 1.6 percent, AAA said.

The decline comes despite the fact that AAA said drivers can find gas stations selling gas for less than $3 a gallon in “the vast majority of states.”

If you want to avoid the crowds, sit out Wednesday. That’s expected to be the busiest single day for travel, with 37 percent of travelers departing for their trip on that day. The most popular day to return is Sunday, Dec. 1, AAA said.

If you’re flying, FareCompare.com offers the following tips for a hassle-free flight:

•Get to the airport early and be at the gate 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled departure.

Avoid checked-bag fees and the wait at the luggage carousel by carrying on bags.

Liquids larger than 3.4 ounces are not allowed through the security checkpoint, so wait until you clear TSA to buy water or other drinks.

Don’t bring home-made gooey stuff, such as cranberry sauce, which qualifies as a liquid to TSA. Also avoid wrapped gifts.

Air travel experts at FareCompare recommend considering early boarding fees to escape the “airport madness” sooner, especially if traveling with children or seniors.

Free blankets and pillows on flights, as well as full meals in domestic coach, are a thing of the past. Bring your own comfort items and food.

Remember, you can now keep portable electronic devices turned on during take-off and landing if your airline gives you the go-ahead.

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