Hitting the Road for Thanksgiving?

November 20, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – If you’re hitting the road for Thanksgiving – and you’re in, or heading for the Northeast - you might want to leave a little early.


According to AAA, an estimated 38.4 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 1.4% increase from a year ago – admittedly a low travel year, and one that was down 25.2% from 2007 levels in the wake of the housing/financial meltdown.   

However, much of the increased travel is projected to come from the New England states, which are expected to show an overall increase of 8.8% over 2008. New England is also projected to lead the country in the increase in travel specifically by auto, 9.6% over last year. 

The vast majority of Thanksgiving travelers (86%) are expected to hit the highways, while just 6% say they will go by air.  AAA notes that this year’s decrease in the number of air travelers continues a decade-long trend in which air travel as a percentage of total Thanksgiving travel has declined substantially – down 62% since 2000.  In case you’re wondering, the remaining 8% of this year’s travelers will go by trains, bus, boats or other means. 

Travel “Log”

Thanksgiving travelers will journey an average of 815 miles roundtrip this upcoming holiday weekend, though more than a third (37%) of travelers will travel 250 miles or less (round trip). Roughly a quarter of weekend travelers will log between 251 and 700 miles, and 38% will travel more than 700 miles round trip.  New England’s Thanksgiving travelers will journey an average of 387 roundtrip miles during the holiday weekend, with close to 40% traveling just 50-150 miles.

Thanksgiving travelers expect to spend approximately $718 per household this upcoming holiday weekend, according to AAA – with 15.7% of that spending on accommodations, while 32% will be for transportation. Food and beverage will absorb 21% of spending and shopping will account for 16%.  Entertainment and recreation will account for 10% of spending, on average, and “other” or miscellaneous spending accounts for 5%.

For those of you flying, the Transportation Safety Administration reminds you that “when it comes to bringing items through checkpoints, we've seen just about everything,” but that “traveling with food or gifts is an even bigger challenge.”  Here's a list of liquid, aerosol and gel items that TSA says you should put in your checked bag, ship ahead, or leave at home. 

  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cologne
  • Creamy dips and spreads
  • (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Gift baskets with food items
  • (salsa, jams and salad dressings)
  • Gravy
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Lotions
  • Maple syrup
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Perfume
  • Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Sauces
  • Snowglobes
  • Soups
  • Wine, liquor and beer

TSA notes that while you CAN bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, you need to be aware that they are “subject to additional screening”.

You can read more about the restrictions at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/holiday.shtm