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More Thanksgiving Travelers Predicted In North Carolina, Nationwide

AAA is predicting more than 1.5 million North Carolinians and more than 55 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel period. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period starting next Wednesday, November 22 running until Sunday, November 26.

AAA projects that in excess of 1.6 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period. This year’s forecast is reported to be the third highest on record. In addition, there will be an expected 26,000, or 2% more holiday travelers than last year.

Nationwide, AAA projects 55.4 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home during next week’s Thanksgiving holiday travel period. The year-to-year increase across the country is expected to mirror the uptick in North Carolina, with 2.3% more travelers expected.

Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations. The approximately 1.43 million North Carolinas who will take a road trip of 50 miles or more is an increase of nearly 18,000 more than last year. This year’s forecasted auto travel volume is 23,000 shy of the all-time high, set during the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving road trips should be more affordable at the gas pump this year. Despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market, strong domestic gasoline supplies are causing pump prices to drop. Last Thanksgiving, the national average price for gasoline was $3.58 per gallon, while the North Carolina average was $3.28. As of the start of this week, North Carolina gas prices averaged $3.02. AAA believes gas prices should remain low through the holiday season unless oil prices suddenly spike.

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Wednesday, November 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with average travel times as high as 80% over normal in some metro areas. INRIX recommends leaving in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion.