AAA Colorado projects 752,000 Coloradans will journey 50 miles or more from home during Thanksgiving weekend, a 3.5 percent increase over 2013. Almost 650,000 of travelers will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and will enjoy the lowest gas prices in four years. Nationally, AAA projects 46.3 million Americans will travel during the Thanksgiving weekend. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 30.
Lower gasoline prices are a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. The Colorado average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $2.94, the lowest Thanksgiving price since 2010 and 22 cents lower than Thanksgiving, 2013. For Coloradans driving outside of the state, more than three-quarters of gas stations across the nation are reporting prices below $3. More than 86 percent of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.
Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2008 with over 51,000 Coloradans taking to the skies. The increase in air travel is contributing to an average roundtrip distance of 952 miles for the holiday.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase 8 percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $114 per night.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10 percent higher than last year. Airfares will only increase 1 percent, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.
Colorado travelers are expected to spend an average of $1,100 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 32 percent of their budgets to fuel. Food and beverage purchases and shopping will account for 18 percent and 15 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively. Accommodations at 13 percent of travel budgets and entertainment/recreation at nine percent are also high on the expenditure list.