Local News

Thanksgiving travel forecast down as gas prices jump

SEBRING - Before many Americans sit down for their turkey feast they head out of town or out of state, but AAA Auto Club forecasts a slightly lower number will be traveling for Thanksgiving this year.

AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year.

Peter Uznanski and his wife, of Spring Lake, will be heading to Lakeland for Thanksgiving with their daughter and son-in-law.

"We split, sometimes they come down here; sometime we go up there," he said.

Some were calling the low gas prices of a week ago an early Christmas for travelers, but a quick price increase has changed that "ho, ho, ho" to "oh no, no, no."

Uznanski is disappointed with the rising gas prices.

"They said just the other day on TV that the prices were going down and now all of a sudden in the last two days they jumped about a quarter," Uzanaski said.

He attributes the price increase to "the gangsters in Washington."

Antonio Barrera of Lake Placid said he may visit his grandparents in Sarasota on turkey day.

He also noted the rebounding gas prices.

"It went back up to $3.30 something," Barrera said. "It was down to $3.15 and I remember when it was $2 something."

In his travels to Kentucky, he noted that Georgia typically has lower gas prices compared to Florida.

Jay Bassitt just moved to Sebring from Maine so he is staying put for the holidays.

He will make the 1.500-mile trip back to Maine next year around Christmas, he said.

"I just did it so I am not looking at doing it anytime soon," Bassitt said. "Flying would be one thing, but driving it, I'm done."

AAA reports that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips on Nov. 27.

"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.

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Florida was $3.341 on Thursday, $3.196 a week ago, $3.317 a month ago and $3.377 a year ago, according to gasbuddy.com.