Some 46.3 million Americans are expected to go 50 miles or more from home, according to the AAA. (AP)
More than 46 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving, 4.2 percent more than last year and the highest number since 2007 on the eve of the Great Recession, the AAA is predicting.
More that 90 percent will be driving, most between Wednesday and Sunday, the auto club, working with IHS Global Insight, has found, based on in-depth telephone interviews with 441 randomly called people.
"Thanksgiving is traditionally a family-focused holiday," said Jim Lehman, President of AAA East Central, in a statement released with the projections.
"Our survey shows that Americans are definitely planning to take advantage of the opportunity to spend time together with family and close friends during the Thanksgiving holiday," he said.The driving projections corroborate the findings of Internet-based GasBuddy's member survey released earlier this week that also found a significant number of families planning on driving round trips of 500 miles or more.
Though GasBuddy found that a large percentage of the more than 81,000 members who participated said lower gasoline prices were not a factor, the low prices are noteworthy.
The average price of gasoline is well below $3 a gallon -- for the first time since December 2010, the AAA points out.
Lower gasoline prices also mean that travelers will spend more money on other purchases -- 59 percent of those surveyed by the auto club said they intend to do some shopping over the holidays.