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Holiday travel up, gas prices down

| November 16, 2022 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Thanksgiving travel is expected to continue to rebound in a big way this year.

According to AAA, 54.6 million Americans, including nearly 312,000 Idahoans, will hit the road or head to the airport for a Turkey Day trip this year, an increase of 1.5% from a year ago.

“This year’s travel volume is back to just below pre-pandemic levels, despite the challenge of higher prices for fuel and the other necessities to make it possible,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “Clearly, people see family gatherings as an investment in their quality of life.”

This year, the Thanksgiving travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 27. Tuesday is expected to be the busiest day at the airports.

Top regional destinations for Thanksgiving are Salt Lake City, Seattle, Bend, Ore., Las Vegas and Billings, Mont.

AAA predicts that auto travel will be slightly higher than last year, with nearly 49 million Americans expected to take a road trip this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving airline travel is expected to increase by 8% to 4.5 million Americans, or nearly 99% of the pre-pandemic volume.

AAA predicts that more holiday travelers will also branch out into other modes, with a 23% increase in the number of Americans who will go by bus, train, and cruise ship this year.

“When it comes to planes, trains and automobiles, it’s important to think strategically,” Conde said.

Gas prices, meanwhile, have fallen under $4 a gallon at many stations in Kootenai County. Some still are charging in the $4.20s for a gallon of regular unleaded.

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