November 17, 2011 / 3:21 PM / in 8 years

US Thanksgiving travel seen up despite gasoline cost

A New York City taxicab drives through the parade route during the 84th Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in New York November 25, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - More Americans will choose a family visit over cost savings this Thanksgiving weekend even as gasoline prices stay near record highs, travel group AAA said on Thursday.

Some 38.2 million Americans will drive 50 miles (80 km) or more away from home over the November 23-27 Thanksgiving holiday period, 4 percent more than a year earlier and the highest since 2007, AAA said.

The group expects retail gasoline prices to average $3.39 a gallon during the period, the highest level for any Thanksgiving over the last 10 years.

(Graphic on forecasts: )

“This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year,” Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA Travel Services, said in a news release.

Families who had foregone travel over the last three years are likely to reverse their decisions this year, the group said, leading to the uptick in the forecast.

“More Americans are expected to choose family and friends over frugality,” AAA said.

The forecast, based on a monthly survey of 50,000 homes, said some 3.4 million — up 1.8 percent year-on-year — would fly over the Thanksgiving weekend, bringing the total number of holiday travellers to 42.5 million.

Thanksgiving travel took a big hit in 2008 following the financial crisis and the economic uncertainty it caused.

Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan in New York; Editing by Dale Hudson

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