Thanksgiving travel

By Tami Stevenson

With Florida still the number one travel destination in the nation, according to AAA, this year’s Thanksgiving gas prices are expected to be the most expensive in eight years.

Even with the higher gas prices, 91 percent of Florida travelers are expected to drive because airfare prices are 22 percent higher even than last year and hotels are up 17 percent. Car rentals, however, went down by seven percent.

     It is estimated that nearly three million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving and is up only by three-quarters of a percent from last year.

     AAA predicts less than eleven percent (203,255) will travel by air and 2,685,826 (91%) will travel by automobile, still another 47,438 are expected to travel by ‘other’ modes of transportation.

     “Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. The Jacksonville International Airport is asking travelers to be there two hours early during this holiday season.

     The busiest days of travel are from November 23-27. The worst travel times are from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The best travel times AAA says are before 8:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m. If you are hitting the road for the holidays, leave early. Travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion Monday-Wednesday afternoon and early evening. Traffic will be lighter during the morning and late evening hours and on Thanksgiving Day.

     The following is a breakdown of gas prices for the last few years: In 2020, Thanksgiving gas prices were at $2.03 per gallon. In 2021 gas prices reached their highest daily average in Florida since September 2014, at $3.31 per gallon, according to AAA. This year, AAA says Florida gas prices are expected to be around $3.46 to $3.56 per gallon, making gas prices the highest in eight years.

    AAA predicts more than 411,000 drivers, nationwide, will need AAA roadside assistance during the holiday weekend. The most common reasons are for dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA encourages drivers to get a full vehicle inspection before they hit the road to check everything from the tires, oil, air filter and wiper blades.