EMERYVILLE, Calif., November 16, 2012 – For the fourth consecutive year, the latest travel survey from AAA finds Thanksgiving travel is continuing to show a slow but steady climb regardless of the economic headwinds facing many Californians.
AAA Northern California's latest travel forecast predicts more than 5.4 million Californians plan to travel 50 miles or more this extended, four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This represents an modest increase of 0.6 percent when compared to last year's figures.
"After several years of economic uncertainty, Californians are well-versed in budgeting so they can gather with family and friends to celebrate holidays together," said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris.
According to AAA, the state's roadways will be heavily congested as more than 4.7 million Californians are projected to travel by motor vehicle during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This represents a 0.5 percent increase when compared to last year's figures. Despite higher airfares, more than 548,000 holiday travelers are predicted to fly, which is a decrease of 1.8 percent when compared to 2011. Approximately 169,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as boats or trains. This represents an increase of 11 percent when compared to last year's figures.
Nationally, AAA forecasts that more than 43 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the four-day weekend. This represents a 0.7 percent increase when compared to last year's travel statistics.
An average West Coast family of four is projected to spend an average of $767 over the holiday weekend. Families who travel by car are likely to drive an average of 887 miles over the four-day holiday weekend. AAA's Leisure Travel Index reveals that prices at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are down about one percent from a year ago, with an average price of $143 per night. AAA Two Diamond lodgings are expected to be one percent higher, with an average room costing $104 per night.
This Thanksgiving weekend, those traveling by air will find lower fares. The average lowest round-trip price is projected to be $188 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Car rental rates will average $47 for the holiday weekend, compared to $37 last year. For West Coast families, the expected primary activities this holiday weekend will be visiting family and friends, followed by dining, shopping, touring/sightseeing and visiting museums.
As part of AAA's ongoing commitment to provide safety and protection to motorists, AAA's Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow for drinking drivers from 6:00 p.m. on November 22 (Thanksgiving Day), until 6:00 a.m. on November 23, in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to ten miles.
"Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,' and a truck will be on its way," said Harris. "Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver's home."
Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather.
AAA Tips for Long-Distance Winter Trips:
• Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
• Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
• Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
• Pack a cell phone programmed with your local AAA's telephone number along with your AAA card, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
• If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
• Don't over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
• Make sure the exhaust pipe isn't clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
• Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
• If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
AAA's projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Travel is the nation's largest leisure travel organization. AAA Travel offers trips, cruises, tours, and vacation packages throughout the world. Call (888) 937-5523 for more information or visit us at your local AAA Travel office or online at www.aaa.com/travel.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services, and consumer discounts to more than 4.2 million Members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.
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