AAA releases its holiday travel forecast on Thursday. The big takeaway: lots more people will be hitting the road this Thanksgiving, due in no small part to plummeting gas prices. Drivers aren't alone with their lower fuel expenses—The airline industry saved $1.6 billion in fuel costs this past year; meanwhile, airfares have gone up.
During the holiday season, the vast majority of people will travel by car. "Usually accounting for about 85 to 90 percent of all travelers," says AAA spokesperson Heather Hunter.
For people taking incredibly long trips, or very short trips, the choice to fly or drive is clear. "But it is the medium length trips, say between 200 and 1,000 miles, where it gets more complicated," says Jon Lal is the CEO of befrugal.com and the creator of Fly or Drive calculator, which takes into account lots of factors. For example: Will you need a rental car if you fly? Are you checking bags? What are current gas prices and how much wear and tear will the trip put on your car?
Dan Sniadoski lives in Seattle. He’s been invited to Thanksgiving dinners at his mom’s place in Montana and at a friend’s house in Portland. "And I still haven't made up my mind if I’m going to travel, and if I do, where am I going to go," he says. Flying is out of the question; he can’t afford last minute airfare. So at this point, his decision comes down to whether to spend the holidays with friends or family.