Thanksgiving travel will jump to the highest level since 2005 boosted by a stronger economy, even as gasoline prices will be higher than a year earlier.
About 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home for the Nov. 22 to Nov. 26 holiday period, the ninth consecutive increase and a 3.3 percent jump over a year earlier, AAA said in an emailed report. About 45.5 million will travel by automobile, up 3.2 percent. Air travel will rise 5 percent to nearly 4 million.
The expansion in holiday travel comes as the U.S. economy is expected to expand 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a survey conducted by Bloomberg News. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped in October to 4.1 percent, the lowest level since 2000, according to the monthly jobs report.
“More thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, travel and publishing, said in a statement.
While retail gasoline prices were 19 percent above a year ago as of Wednesday, AAA expects prices to fall as the holiday approaches. Still, AAA forecasts most Americans will pay the highest prices for gasoline this Thanksgiving since 2014. The November average through Wednesday was $2.54, up 35 cents from the same period in 2016, according to AAA data.
The average airfare for a round-trip flight on the top 40 domestic routes will be $157, 23 percent below a year earlier and the lowest in five years. The average daily hotel rate at AAA Three Diamond-rated hotels will jump 14 percent to $176.
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