HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with gas prices on the rise, many might think that more people will opt to stay closer to home than drive to their destination. But, travel experts say otherwise.
Clay Ingram, with AAA of Alabama, says families should prepare to brave the roads and the skies to get to their holiday plans.
“We’re expecting 53.4 million people traveling a distance of 50 miles or more this year for Thanksgiving,” Ingram told News 19.
Comparing travel this year to 2020 there is going to be an obvious increase because of the pandemic, “Of course we’re going to see more travel, but what we’re really comparing it to is 2019,” adding that driving traffic is expected to go up by 13% since last year.
“It’s going to feel like a Thanksgiving holiday weekend out there traffic-wise, where ever you’re headed if you’re going to visit friends or family or the Auburn vs Alabama football game, whatever it might be it’s going to be really busy out there.”
That’s not an overall increase. With travel down just 5% from 2019, Ingram says this drop could be a result of travel hesitancy. According to the popular gas company, Gas Buddy, the national gas price average is set to decline to $3.35 a gallon on Thanksgiving day, which is still one of the highest gas prices seen on the holiday in over 7 years.
But, AAA says gas prices are rarely ever the reason as to why people don’t travel, “You may add extra money to your gas budget, but people normally don’t tell their family member they can’t see them because of an extra $10-$20,” Ingram said.
Factors as to why people don’t travel can range from a variety of other different things, Ingram said, “Yeah, usually gas prices don’t affect travel much at all especially around the holidays like this. You know this year the reason we’re seeing decreased travel, down compared to 2019, is simply COVID.”
Still, planning ahead and having a travel plan is always smart, “Have your passenger as your teammate, have them reading you your maps, helping you plan stops,” and always plan for traffic, “Be a conservative driver, I know it’s hard to be patient when you’re trying to get somewhere during slow-moving traffic.”
He says leaving with hours of cushion for traffic will relieve stress and allow you to go with the flow.
“Typically the busiest travel days are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, so any of the days other than those days are usually pretty good days to travel,” Ingram said.
If you can, Ingram suggests leaving the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving and leaving the Monday after.