Another year of low unemployment and high consumer confidence will likely motivate over 50 million Americans to hit the road and take to the air for this Thanksgiving holiday -- from Wednesday, November 22 to Sunday, November 26, the American Automobile Association predicts. That’s the most since 2005.
AAA Idaho projects 265,000 Idahoans will travel fifty miles or more from home this holiday season, with 236,000 opting to travel by automobile.
In the Mountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming), travel volume is expected to top 3.7 million during this period, experts said. Given the region’s large rural area, automobile travel will slightly outpace the national trend, and air travel will fall slightly under.
“When consumer confidence is high, more people are willing to travel, even if it means taking on debt,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Nationwide, travel demand is surprisingly strong this fall, which is reducing fuel inventory and putting upward pressure on gas prices. Although some people may adjust food expenses or other line items in their travel budget, we don’t expect fuel prices to stop people from visiting friends and family this Thanksgiving.”
Idaho’s current average price for regular gasoline is $2.65. A year ago, Gem State drivers paid $2.44. The U.S. average price is $2.56, compared to $2.15 a year ago. Although Idaho gas prices have been among the highest in the country in recent years, a nine-cent increase over the past month brings the U.S. average to within a dime of Idaho pump prices.
“Idaho has experienced a seasonal price drop, but it’s been slower than in recent years,” Conde said. “The Rockies region currently has an abundant supply and is often one of the last to react to U.S. gas market activity, so we’ll be watching to see how the latest national uptick affects Gem State prices in the coming days.”
AAA advises travelers to carry chains in their vehicles and to consult weather and traffic information before heading out. All passengers should wear their seatbelts; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 301 vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes during Thanksgiving weekend in 2015; about 50 percent of those killed weren’t wearing seat belts at the time.
“Expect large crowds on the roads and at the airport,” Conde said. “Getting an early start may be a good plan to avoid some holiday travel stress.”