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AAA expects more than 54 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving

AAA is advising motorists to expect congested roads from 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Wednesday next week.

By train, plane or automobile – no matter how you get there, millions of Americans will be on the move next holiday weekend.  

AAA projects over 54 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving - the most since 2005.

Next weekend is set to see 2.5 million more people, or about 4.8 percent, taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared to last year, according to a report by the auto group earlier this month.

Gas is cheap this year

And there’s good news for folks hitting the highways – at least when it comes to filling up at the pump. Fuel prices continue to plunge, with the average price per gallon in Florida hitting $2.57 in November  - the lowest since March.

Although the Florida average price of gasoline declined 20 cents in the past month, Florida gas prices are still 15 cents higher than last Thanksgiving.

AAA attributes the active holiday weekend to a strong economy and those falling gas prices.

Expect some congestion

But just because gas is cheap doesn’t mean the roads will be a breeze. AAA is advising motorists to expect congested roads from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday next week, as travelers mix with afternoon commuters; and next Sunday, as holiday travelers return home.

“With more travelers comes more congestion at airports and on the roads,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA. “AAA urges people to leave early, pack their patience and minimize distractions while behind the wheel.”

Nasworthy added that motorists looking to avoid congestion should avoid traveling through cities at peak travel times.

Roads are generally less crowded in the mornings and on the holiday itself.

The most expensive cities to pay at the pump are Tampa, St. Petersburg-Clearwater ($2.42), Orlando ($2.45) and Punta Gorda ($2.48).

Least expensive gas price averages can be found in Panama City ($2.86), Crestview ($2.75) and  West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($2.73).

For daily national, state, and metro gas price averages, log on to GasPrices.AAA.com.

Best days and ways to travel by plane

A release by AAA also noted that the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving tend to be the most popular air travel days and have the highest average price per roundtrip ticket.

In contrast, Thanksgiving Day consistently has the lowest average price per ticket and is the lightest travel day. To save money, travelers can fly the morning of the holiday and arrive just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Most travelers booked their flights for Thanksgiving between Sept. 23 and Oct. 25, paying an average price of $478 roundtrip.