Thanksgiving travel expected to be a crowded affair

Your Thanksgiving trip promises to be a crowded one with about 42.2 million people traveling at least 50 miles from home. That’s an increase of 11% from last year, when about 37.9 million Americans traveled during the holiday.

The travel group defines the 2010 Thanksgiving travel period as Wednesday, Nov. 24 to Sunday, Nov. 28.

The uptick in travel indicates people are feeling at least a bit better about their budgets than they were last year, when many families stayed home for the holiday as a way to save money. Improvements in disposable personal income, household net worth and a decrease in consumer debt have also helped.

The predicted double-digit jump in Thanksgiving is a notable upturn from last year’s nearly flat growth and a stunning decline of 25% in 2008. While the expected 11.4% increase this year is substantial, the 4.3 million additional travelers it represents account for less than half of the volume lost from 2007 through 2009. The Thanksgiving travel peak was 58.6 million in 2005.

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