As the economy slowly improves, more Americans are hitting the road for the upcoming holidays, according to AAA's annual holiday travel report.
The federation of motor clubs said Tuesday that the number of Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday will increase 11.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 42.2 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday. The 2010 Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 24 to Sunday, November 28.
"While Americans remain cautious with household budgets and discretionary spending amidst high levels of unemployment, many are in a better financial position this Thanksgiving than a year ago," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "This improvement, along with a strong desire to spend time with friends and family, is expected to propel a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel."
A record 92 percent, 40 million of the 42.2 million total travelers, are expected to drive, although the number of air travelers is expected to increase from 1.57 million to 1.62 million. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg warns that the much ballyhooed, new, invasive, airport security screening procedures at U.S. airports is expected to significantly slow air travel time.
Although overall travel is up, the number of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving is still recovering from a 25.2 decline in travel in 2008, AAA reports. The peak in annual numbers of holiday travelers was 58.6 million in 2005.
More than 80 percent of people report traveling for the holidays to spend time with friends and family.