Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel time of the year in the United States, and 2018 is shaping up to be no exception.
According to AAA Kansas officials, 54.3 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from their homes home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year.
AAA says the 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005. Some 2.5 million more people are expected to hit the roads, fly the friendly skies, hop on a bus, climb aboard a train or get on a boat this holiday.
AAA's West North Central Region — in which Kansas is included, along with Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota — is projected to see more than 4.4 million people taking Thanksgiving weekend trips of 50 miles or longer, a 4.6 percent increase over 2017. Of that number, about 4 million travelers, or 90 percent, will be traveling by car. Travel by air and other forms of transportation, such as cruises, bus and trains, is also projected to increase in the West North Central Region.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more Kansans and Americans overall will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman, said in a news release. “Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth. This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday to Sunday.
AAA says drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, though a report out earlier this week indicated prices at the pump were about equal to a year ago in Kansas, and in some cases were even lower this year.
According to AAA, the national average gas price as of Tuesday was $2.61, which is 8 cents more than a year ago.
But gas prices have dropped significantly in the past month, and Kansans are actually paying a bit less at the pump compared to this time in November 2017, with the statewide average hovering at $2.35 a gallon on Tuesday, compared to about $2.39 a year ago.
An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are usually the most popular air travel days and have the highest average price per roundtrip ticket.
Meanwhile, AAA says, Thanksgiving Day consistently has the lowest average price per ticket and is the lightest travel day.