Thanksgiving's recipe for travelers: full planes, busy roads - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Thanksgiving's recipe for travelers: full planes, busy roads

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Holiday travel continues a steady climb from the 2008 level with 43.6 million Americans expected to take Thanksgiving trips. Holiday travel continues a steady climb from the 2008 level with 43.6 million Americans expected to take Thanksgiving trips.

(RNN) – The number of people hitting the road this Thanksgiving is projected to climb for the fourth year in a row.

In its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, AAA estimates 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more to celebrate the holiday. That's nearly a 1 percent increase from last year.

"Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled," said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. "Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday. Americans continue to find ways to economize their budgets so they can gather around the holiday table to carve the turkey."

If you're worried about feeling the pain at the pump, AAA projects the national average of gas prices to drop to between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon, near last year's price of $3.32.

As far as what day to pack up and hit the road? Maybe avoid the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which is said to be the busiest day to hit the streets with 45 percent of travelers on the way to their destinations.

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 39.1 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving, according to AAA.

Though many will be traveling far by car, nearly 600 miles on average, more people are taking to the air this holiday season than last.

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, forecasts nearly 24 million passengers will fly during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday season.

A4A also projects planes to be packed full of passengers due to a smaller number of flights.

That's about 150,000 more people than last year but about 10 percent lower than the travel peak in 2006 and 2007.

According to the Associated Press, ticket prices have gone up 4 percent since 2011.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

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