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During this year’s Thanksgiving weekend, 46.3 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, the highest number since 2007, AAA forecasts. In 2007, just before the recession, 50.6 million Americans hit the road on Thanksgiving getaway.
Like in any other year, the majority of the travelers, about 90%, will be driving. AAA has good news for them. The price of gasoline will be much lower this year – $2.85 per gallon, 43 cents cheaper than last Thanksgiving. With an average car running 18.5 miles per gallon, a family driving 300 miles will save $6.97 in fuel this Thanksgiving, says AAA.
Instead, Americans planning to go by plane will have to spend more on this holiday, since airfares are 1.1 up from last year, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp, a company that processes ticket transactions for airlines and travel agencies.
According to Airlines for America, are expected around 2.3 million roundtrip passengers on U.S. airlines during this holiday period. Here figures provided by AAA and Airlines for America differ because the former looks at a 5-day time span, while the latter looks at the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving.
According to travel research firm STR, the travelers who plan staying at hotels will also pay more, since the average room rate are up 4.6 percent from the same period last year.
Google Inc, analyzed the roads in 21 major U.S. cities, and found next Wednesday’s getaway traffic will reach its peak from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in most areas. Google drew this conclusion by following the locations of smartphones running its Android OS and mapping service during the 2012 Thanksgiving week and also last year.
On Thanksgiving-day the most serious traffic congestion will occur from midday to 2 p.m., says Google.
Last year’s biggest Thanksgiving traffic spikes happened in Philadelphia, Texas, Austin, Washington D.C. and Dallas, according to Google. Denver, Providence, Boston, Seattle and Rhode Island registered the smallest changes in traffic.
Google also advises drivers not to drive back home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, because according to its data the traffic is 40 percent higher on Saturday than on the Sunday following the holiday. A notable exception from the rule was Pittsburgh, where traffic was slightly more intense the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
The internet company advises Americans who don’t plan on leaving town to stockpile Thanksgiving food and drink in advance. For the last two years, on the day before the holiday on Google’s mapping service the most searched categories have been ”ham shop,” ”pie shop” and “liquor store.”