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Travelers get ready for Thanksgiving holiday

Posted November 17, 2012
Updated November 18, 2012

With gas prices dropping, more people are expected to hit the road this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

For the fourth year in a row, the number of people traveling for Thanksgiving is expected to increase. However, more travelers will choose driving over flying in order to cut costs, according to AAA.

The auto club estimates about 43.6 million Americans will be traveling in 2012, slightly more than the 43.3 million who traveled in 2011. About 90 percent of those people will hit the road in a vehicle.

Though the majority of people will travel by car, gas prices are not expected to rise in advance of Thanksgiving.

"Gas prices have been dropping for the past two months," said Angela Vogel Daley. "We expect them to continue to drop through the Thanksgiving holiday."

In the past two years, gas prices have decreased through the holiday, rather than rise, Vogel Daley said.

"They may stabilize a bit around Thanksgiving, as the majority of people drive," Vogel Daley said.

The auto club estimates that gas prices nationwide will stay between $3.25 and $3.40 next week. The average price of gas nationwide was $3.44 on Nov. 12.

Despite the stable prices at the pump, the costs of traveling will still keep many people from seeing family on Thanksgiving.

Shane Harrington, a sophomore at Louisiana State University, is forgoing the trip home to North Carolina for the holiday.

"I’m not traveling because it’s too expensive to fly," said Harrington, who is from Monroe. "It’s ridiculous how airlines raise the prices for Thanksgiving when people are trying to visit their families."

Instead, Harrington will stay in Baton Rouge, La., for the holiday.

"I’m staying in my apartment at LSU, and I was invited to go to my friend’s house on Thanksgiving Day," he said.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the busiest days for traveling will be the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving, airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said. More than 35,000 people are expected to come through the airport on each of those days, she said.

A total of 200,000 people are expected to travel through RDU between Friday and Monday, Nov. 26, Hamlin said.

Chelsea Steele, a senior at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, plans to head home to Miami through RDU on Wednesday.

"I’m upset that I won't be leaving until Wednesday," Steele said. "I’ll be traveling across four states to go home to Miami. Most of my friends are more localized and will leave earlier in the week."

She said money was the deciding factor on when to leave.

"Leaving later was cheaper,” she said.

The Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving will also be the busiest on the railroads, according to Amtrak.

The train service carried more than 724,000 passengers during Thanksgiving 2011, and even more are expected this year, an Amtrak spokeswoman said. To ease the rush, travelers are being urged to arrive early, have photo identification and be aware of limits on luggage.

Despite the costs and hassles of heading home for Thanksgiving, Steele said this holiday will be better than the rest.

"My parents bought my family Heat vs. Bucks tickets for Wednesday night," Steele said. "This break is already looking better than my past three."

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  • Supie Nov 19, 2012

    Pray travel mercies.