Home is where the turkey is

The number of Thanksgiving travelers in 2016 is expected to reach record numbers this year. 49 million travelers will be on the road in the US this holiday season, a number that has not been matched in recent memory. As USA Today found, these travelers will flock mostly to big cities, including Las Vegas, NV; San Francisco, CA; and New York City.

The cost of giving

#Thanksgiving travelers may be increasing due to a number of reasons. For one thing, national gas prices average out at about $2.14 per gallon according to AAA. While this might sound expensive, it still makes hitting the pumps cheaper than flying.

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A round-trip drive from Hartford, CT, to Jacksonville, FL, for instance, costs around $127.05 in a car with 38 MPG.

Talking turkey

Travelers are also seeing a healthier #economy than in the past. Statistics from FactCheck.org note that average weekly wages are up 3.4%, while more than 9 million jobs have been created since 2008. This means more people are financially secure enough that they will be able to #Travel this Thanksgiving.

Going home

The large influx of travelers to big cities might suggest social reasons for traveling this Thanksgiving.

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Pilgrims coming from rural areas might be flocking to these areas to feel less isolated from their city-slicker relatives. The US Department of Transportation’s statistics confirm that 53% of all long-distance travel is indeed for visiting friends and family.

Travel and the economy

The economy will probably benefit from Thanksgiving travel in 2016, but not in the way you might expect. Nearly half of all travelers going short distances do it in a single shot, and thus do not need a hotel overnight. Still, though, restaurants and entertainment venues may very likely see boosts in attendance -- and thus, profit.

Travel in the US

AAA, which considers the Thanksgiving travel period Wednesday, Nov. 23-Sunday, Nov. 27, keeps statistics on the number of travelers each year. According to the agency, travel in 2016 is up 1.9% from last year, and this year will see the most travelers since 2007.

Consumer confidence

Rises in consumer spending also played a part in the increased travel numbers, and HospitalityNet reported that hotels are expected to earn $550 billion in revenue in 2016. This figure is up from 2011, when the industry did $457 billion. Consumer confidence in the economy has also reportedly risen, possibly another factor leading travelers to spend more often, and in greater amounts.