Thanksgiving travel down slightly from last year

ARLINGTON (WJLA) - Thanksgiving travel is expected to dip slightly this year, down 1.5 percent from Thanksgiving a year ago.

According to AAA, 43.4 million Americans are expected to travel this year as part of their Thanksgiving, 90 percent of which are expected to travel by car, also down from the nearly 92 percent who traveled by car last year. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest travel day of the season, with 37 percent of travelers hitting the roads, rails or airports that day.

The car is the only option for frequent flyer Ryan Godwin and his Ohio-bound family.

“Flying a family of four, upwards of $1,200, even with reward points and miles, I fly all the time for work, even when I cash that in, it’s not feasible," he says.

Those leaving home for Thanksgiving are also expected to travel a little bit further this season. The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving is up this year to 601 miles, up 13 miles from last year. Despite the increase in average distance traveled, fewer Americans will fly for the Thanksgiving holiday. Air travel is expected to decline 3.7 percent, from 3.26 million to 3.14 million.

Median spending is also expected to drop this Thanksgiving from $498 per person last year to $465 this season.

And while gas price are below $3 for the first time in three years, locally they’ve spiked in the last three days.

“I wish I could wait to fill up in northern Virginia, but I’ll have to do it on the way back,” says Rosemary Howe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.