AAA projects 1.94 million people from Connecticut and the five other New England states—13.3 percent of the region’s population— will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 0.6 percent over the 1.93 million people who traveled last year. This increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008, when regional Thanksgiving travel fell by nearly 28 percent. Eighty-eight percent of New Englanders traveling this weekend will do so by automobile.
Nationwide, 43.6 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving—an increase of 0.7 percent from 2011—90 percent of them by automobile.
Popular destinations among Connecticut travelers for Thanksgiving 2012 include Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio. Because of lingering effects from Hurricane Sandy, we have been advising motorists to fill up on gasoline before heading to the Mid-Atlantic region, and in some cases we are sending travelers along a more inland route to avoid areas hard-hit by the storm.
The recent dramatic drop in gasoline prices—both in Connecticut and nationally—is expected to help holiday travel. The average price of gasoline today in Connecticut is $3.83, compared to $4.00 a month ago and $3.65 a year ago. The current national average is $3.43, while it was $3.67 a month ago and $3.35 a year ago. Barring any unforeseen events, AAA expects gasoline prices to continue to drop for the balance of 2012.
Other New England Highlights from 2012 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast:
- 1.71 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.7 percent.
- Median spending expected to increase six percent to $425, compared to $401 last year. Eleven percent of that budget will be spent on gasoline or diesel.
- Holiday air travel to decline by 1.6 percent from 2011.
- Average distance traveled to decline 25 percent to 473 miles from 627 miles, due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and the desire to economize budgets.
- Seventy-seven percent of travelers list visiting with friends/relatives as a primary holiday activity; 52 percent list dining; 45 percent list shopping.
Drive with caution, even close to home
Even for those staying closer to home for Thanksgiving, AAA urges motorists to budget extra time to get where they’re going, avoid distracted driving, and make sure their vehicle is in good working order. With a tranquil weather forecast and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, come Friday, we expect to see crowded parking lots and increased traffic around the major shopping areas.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25. AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.