AAA projects 1.4 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel as consumer see signs of economic recovery. The South Atlantic region is forecast to be up by 3 percent. With a cautious eye on economic recovery, more Americans intend to travel this year for Thanksgiving than last year. AAA projects 38.4 million Americans will travel a distance of 50 miles or more away from home throughout Thanksgiving weekend, a 1.4 percent increase over last year when 37.8 million traveled for the holiday.

“We take the projected increase in travelers as a sign that economic recovery may finally be taking root and we believe many Americans certainly share the same hope,” said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president, AAA Auto Club South.

Overall, the numbers show an even greater number of people who plan on driving (86 percent of all travelers) which reflects a growing public dissatisfaction with air travel. Fewer flights, higher costs for airfares, frequent delays and increased fees have a record number of Americans opting for other means of travel. This year only 6 percent of travelers said they will travel by air and that exemplifies a 10 year trend in which air travel, as part of total Thanksgiving travel, has declined substantially. Since 2000, the number of air travelers during Thanksgiving weekend has dropped by 62 percent.

Florida and Georgia are projected to show a 3 percent increase in overall travel versus 2008, but in Tennessee an 8 percent decrease is anticipated and that is reportedly due to high unemployment in Tennessee.

With so many motorists expected on the roadways, Bakewell recommends that everyone avoid driver distractions such as cell phones and texting, as well as avoid “driver fatigue” and not attempt a long drive home at night, especially if there’s any drowsiness after enjoying a hearty Thanksgiving dinner.

“On Thanksgiving Day we’re all especially susceptible to ‘carb-overload’ and when you couple that with the tryptophan that is present in turkey and other meats, and perhaps an alcoholic beverage, many of us are ready for a nap,” Bakewell said.

He noted that tryptophan can contribute to a feeling of drowsiness and motorists must be aware of that and avoid driving if they feel tired. “It’s much better to stay put rather than place yourself and others at risk,” he added. “A fresh start in the morning after you’ve rested makes a world of difference.”

AAA’s holiday travel projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight and D.K. Shifflet & Associates which conducted a national survey of 1,350 U.S. adults.

Calhoun Times