Cheaper gas means more cars on road for Thanksgiving

Travelers will be out in abundance over the Thanksgiving holiday next weekend, but many more will be in cars than in previous years thanks to the massive drop in gasoline prices.

AAA Travel projects that 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, the highest volume since 2007.

Even more, 90 percent of them will take to the road, including 2.1 million in Florida alone.

The nationwide forecast is 4.2 percent higher than last year, and will include gas prices at lowest levels since 2010.

That doesn’t mean people won’t be flying. In fact, the 3.6 million booking plane tickets also is the highest since 2007, despite airfares increasing by 1 percent, mid-range hotels up 8 percent, and car rentals costing 10 percent more.

“The rise in travelers comes as Americans grow more optimistic about the future,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins, in a release. “Falling gas prices and improvements in several key economic factors — including employment, GDP and disposable income — are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”

This will be the first time drivers have had gas under $3 over Thanksgiving since 2010, when national averages were at $2.86. Last year, the cost of a gallon of gas over the November holiday was $3.28.

“The dramatic discount at the pump is a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season,” Jenkins said. “Lower prices mean increased disposable income enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving.”

Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the holiday weekend, with 31 percent going to fuel, AAA officials said. Dining and shopping will account for 42 percent of it.

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