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Here’s Why More People Are Traveling This Thanksgiving

Travelers Embark On Holiday Travel Day Before ThanksgivingTravelers Embark On Holiday Travel Day Before Thanksgiving
Traffic backs up on the Kennedy Expressway as commuters and holiday travelers try to get an early start on their Thanksgiving travel in Chicago, Illinois.Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images

Around 46.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving period, the most number of travelers since 2007.

This represents a 0.6% increase over the previous year, and marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel, said AAA Travel in their 2015 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast on Wednesday.

The reason for the record number of travelers this season is largely due to cheap gas. Gas prices remain well below 2014 levels, AAA Travel said, and acts as a holiday discount for the 89% of travelers who will drive to their destinations. The travel company estimates that consumers are saving nearly $265 million on gasoline every day compared to a year ago.

“Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO, in a statement.

The study added that consumers are expected to be cautious in their spending despite steady wage growth and rising disposable income. AAA Travel estimates that consumer spending should rise by 3%.

This falls in line with the latest report on income and spending released today. The report showed that spending rose less than expected in October at 0.1%, even as income rose 0.4% in October. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending to rise by 0.3% last month.