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46-million Americans, the most in 7 years, to travel over Thanksgiving

46-million Americans, the most in 7 years, to travel over Thanksgiving
How far will you travel for your Thanksgiving dinner? For Americans traveling, the average trip will be more than 500 miles round-trip over the holiday weekend, AAA Travel says. (Larry Crowe / Associated Press)

Love having company for Thanksgiving? Good, because you'll have plenty of it. More than 46-million Americans are expected to drive or fly to their destination this year, the highest number of Thanksgiving  travelers since pre-recession 2007.

AAA Travel's Thanksgiving Forecast says almost 90% of travelers will be driving 50 miles or more from home. The average round-trip holiday drive is estimated at 549 miles.

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The good news for drivers: Gas prices remain low. While the average U.S. price of gas is less than $3 a gallon, the California average is $3.21 a gallon — still lower than last year's Thanksgiving prices.

Fliers, however, aren't so lucky. They're paying 8% more for hotel rooms and 10% more for car rentals this year. AAA predictions cover the holiday period from Nov. 26th through Nov. 30th.

How to best navigate your way through holiday traffic?

Google Maps compiled Thanksgiving traffic data collected in 21 cities over the last two years to forecast what might be in store for drivers this year. Here are their tips:

— Don't hit the road on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving if you can avoid it. And if you can't, then don't drive between 3 and 5 p.m. Wednesday or you're just asking for a traffic headache.

— The "don't drive on Wednesday" rule applies just about everywhere except Boston, when Tuesday will be the nightmare traffic day; and Honolulu, Providence, R.I., and San Francisco, when Saturday will mean traffic will slow to a crawl.

— The lightest travel day? Thanksgiving, of course, but noon to 2 pm. could still present snarls.

— The best time to head home after the long holiday weekend is Sunday rather than Saturday. Google Maps says traffic can be up to 40% worse on Saturday. Who knew?

— And if you think everyone's going shopping on Black Friday, that may not be true. Search trends for the day after Thanksgiving show phrases like "Christmas tree farm" and "festival."

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