AAA Colorado projects small reduction in percentage of Coloradans traveling for Thanksgiving

Wednesday before Thanksgiving to remain busiest travel day of year

Denver, November 20 – AAA Colorado projects 721,000 Coloradans, or 14.1 percent of the population, will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This is a decrease of 0.8 percent from last year but is the highest percentage of Coloradans travelling over a holiday this year. Over Labor Day 2013, 11.2 percent of the Colorado population travelled and 13.5 percent travelled over Independence Day. Nationally, AAA projects 43.4 million American travelers during Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 27 to Monday, December 2.

Wednesday before the holiday will be busiest travel day
The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends. AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip the Wednesday before the holiday (37 percent) and return the following Sunday (33 percent).

Date of Departure Date of Return
Monday, November 25
Tuesday, November 26
Wednesday, November 27
Thursday, November 28
Friday, November 29
Thursday, November 28
Friday, November 29
Saturday, November 30
Sunday, December 1
Monday, December 2 or later

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
AAA Colorado estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The Colorado average of $3.19 is at the cheapest level since early February 2013 and is likely to continue to drop in the weeks ahead. Drivers nationwide can find stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in the vast majority of states. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases
Approximately 87 percent of travelers or 624,000 Colorado residents plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 0.9 percent decrease from auto travel last year. Air travel is expected to decrease 3.8 percent as 46,000 holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares comparable to last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index. For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $188 last year. Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $142 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $105 per night, compared to $104 in 2012. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Average travel distance and median spending increase
According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Coloradans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 762 miles, which is an increase from last year when travelers planned to log 607miles.

Median spending is expected to be $670, compared to the expected median spending of $591 in 2012.

Visiting family, dining and shopping top activities
While spending time with friends and relatives and dining are primary activities for nearly all holidays, it is even more relevant for Thanksgiving travelers. Therefore it is not surprising that spending time with family and friends (52 percent) and dining (60 percent) are the most popular activities planned by Colorado travelers. More than half of all travelers (53 percent) plan to shop during the holiday which can be expected given Thanksgiving Day retail openings and Black Friday occurring during the holiday weekend.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. AAA Colorado has more than 560,000 members and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides over 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services, as well as member exclusive savings.