AAA Chicago Projects Busy Thanksgiving Travel Weekend

November 22, 2006

Higher prices for hotel rooms, rental cars and airfares will not keep families home this Thanksgiving. AAA Chicago estimates 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.7 percent increase from last year’s 37.3 million travelers.

“Airports and highways will be busier than ever,” says Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago. “The higher prices will not keep people home for Thanksgiving.”

Approximately 31.7 million travelers expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.6 percent increase from those who drove a year ago.

Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices in Illinois averaging $2.30, about the same as Thanksgiving weekend last year. In Indiana, motorists will pay $2.23 per gallon of regular unleaded fuel.

“Americans will take advantage of the fact that fuel prices have been falling for the past several months,” Mosher said. “It’s a relief from what motorists paid to take their summer trips.”

Another 4.8 million Americans will travel by airplane, up 3.2 percent from last year. AAA projects 1.9 million travelers will go by train, bus or other mode of transportation, up slightly from 1.8 million a year ago.

“With crowded airports and new security measures in force, travelers should leave extra time for check-in and security lines,” Mosher said. “Travelers should be aware of the new security restrictions before leaving home in order to avoid throwing away expensive liquid products and other restricted items.”

The Great Lakes region, of which Illinois and Indiana are a part, will be the starting point for 6.2 auto travelers and 643,000 air travelers, up 2.9 percent and 3.6 percent respectively from last year.

All travelers will find higher prices throughout the country for airfares, hotels and car rentals, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Holiday hotel rates are up 16 percent for AAA-Rated Three Diamond hotels, as strong demand allows hoteliers to increase rates that they raised last Thanksgiving as well. With an average 4 percent increase from last year, air fares will be more costly, but travelers won’t see the extreme price hikes they will experience with hotels and rental cars.

Many travelers, 69.5 percent, will opt to save money and stay with a friend or relative for Thanksgiving. Hotel and motel stays will house 16 percent of Thanksgiving travelers. Small towns and rural areas are the expected destination for 45.3 percent of Thanksgiving travelers, followed by cities at 35 percent.

AAA Chicago, also the Chicago Motor Club, identifies itself as a leading advocate for various traffic safety and travel-related issues. AAA Chicago offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial services as part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the largest affiliation of AAA clubs in the Midwest, with 4.2 million members in eight states.

Source: AAA Chicago

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