Fewer people will travel for Turkey Day this year: report

Travelers walk through New York's Penn Station, Nov. 21, 2012. Around 43.6 million Americans were expected to journey 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, just a 0.7 percent increase from last year, according to AAA's yearly Thanksgiving travel analysis.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

For the first time in five years, travel across the United States over the Thanksgiving holiday will decline, with only 43.4 million people traveling for their turkey, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

It's a slight 1.5 percent decrease compared to the 44 million that traveled in 2012. The average distance journeyed will increase to 601 miles from 588 miles in 2012.

"While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers and therefore AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year," said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney.

90 percent of travelers will hit the road and travel by car, a decline of 1.6 percent from 2012.

Air travel is also predicted to decline this year, with 3.14 million people choosing to jump on a plane compared to 3.26 million in 2012.

Americans will spend approximately $465 per household to travel during this holiday period, down from $498 last year.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the least expensive holidays to travel; Americans spent an average of $804 during this year's Labor Day and $749 for Independence Day.

Wednesday, Nov. 27, will be the busiest day of Thanksgiving travel- with 37 percent of travelers departing that day. Sunday, Dec 1, is when most will head home.

If all these numbers are filling you with anxiety ahead of this year's holiday, you can take comfort in that the AAA estimates most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010.

The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead, with most stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon. 

  • Jessica Hartogs On Twitter»

    Jessica Hartogs is a news editor for CBSNews.com. You can find her on Twitter: @jessicahartogs