Travel uptick seen for holiday

NEW YORK — Slightly more Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That includes people who are choosing to drive instead of fly as household budgets remain tight.

In its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday, up just 0.7 percent from last year.

But while more people are traveling, it appears that the pent-up demand seen following the recession has largely dissipated. Demand grew a healthy 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in the two previous Thanksgiving holiday periods even though economic growth was moderate. Now, AAA says it will take a stronger economy to spur a significant jump in travel demand going forward.

“Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water,” AAA said in its forecast.

The number of travelers forecast to drive, fly or hop on a train or bus this holiday is still 26 percent below the peak in 2005 and 14 percent below 2007.

Air travel is expected to decline, one sign that many households continue to feel financially pinched. AAA expects 3.14 million people to fly, down from 3.2 million a year earlier. Even with gas at a current national average of $3.44 per gallon, driving the family from New England to the Midwest to see the relatives is still cheaper than flying.

And filling up the tank will take less money than people expected when the survey was conducted in early October. That’s because of a dramatic drop in gas prices. The national average has declined 35 cents per gallon in the last month. AAA expects further declines through the holiday. Still, the price of gas on Thanksgiving Day should be around last year’s record of $3.32 per gallon.

More in Herald Business Journal

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Tesla rolls out the design for its 500-mile electric big rig

The truck will have an Autopilot system, which can maintain a set speed and slow down in traffic.

Washington revenues up $319 million

The state is projected to have nearly $2.8 billion in reserves by the end of the biennium.

How Airbus’s A380 deal with Emirates evaporated in Dubai

It came down to concern by Emirates that Airbus might shut down the jumbo program.

Everett’s Sentry Credit celebrates a quarter century in business

Sentry Credit Inc. in Everett is celebrating its 25th year in business.… Continue reading

Funko donates hundreds of Pop! Heroes to Christmas House

Everett’s toy and collectibles maker Funko has donated hundreds of its Pop!… Continue reading

Donate coats for Clothes for Kids of Snohomish County

Washington Energy Services is conducting a local coat drive to benefit Clothes… Continue reading

Seattle Premium Outlets extend hours over Thanksgiving holiday

Seattle Premium Outlets will be offering extended Black Friday shopping hours in… Continue reading

Equipment rental and sales business H&E opens Mukilteo shop

Company hopes to capitalize on construction occuring in northwest Washington.

Most Read