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Low gas prices mean more road trips this Thanksgiving

Low gas prices mean more road trips this Thanksgiving
Road trips will be popular for the Thanksgiving holiday, thanks to lower gasoline prices, according to the AAA. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

With gas prices reaching their lowest levels in five years, road trips will be the overwhelming choice for Thanksgiving travelers' mode of transportation this year.

An estimated 46.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles for the Thanksgiving weekend, a 4.2% increase over last year and the highest level since 2007, according to the AAA.

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Thanks to gasoline prices that have dropped to a national average of $2.85 per gallon -- 43 cents per gallon lower than last year -- nearly 90% of those trips will be taken in a car, the Auto Club said. Nearly 8% will fly to their holiday destination.

An improving economy and a brighter outlook for the future are also spurring more travel this year, said Marshall L. Doney, president and chief operating officer for the AAA.

Road trips are also a good deal this year because car rental rates are expected to drop slightly compared with last year, according to the travel site Hotwire.com.

The website estimates that airfares will rise 5% for Thanskgiving travel compared with last year, while hotel rates will jump 12%. But car rental rates will drop 2% for Thanksgiving, said Hotwire Group president Henrik Kjellberg.

"Road trips are a great way to save," he said.

Perhaps no surprise is the Auto Club's prediction of the most popular activity this Thanksgiving holiday: 89% of travelers plan to spend time with family and friends.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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