More Arizonans will take to the road and sky this holiday weekend than last year. The travel group AAA/Arizona estimates that about 857,000 residents will travel at least 60 miles over the next five days, compared to 854,000 travelers for Thanksgiving 2011.
The vast majority – 9 out of 10 – will travel by vehicle. The rest will fly. Michelle Donati, a spokesperson for AAA/Arizona, says almost half of the travelers this weekend will leave Wednesday, so they can arrive at their destinations well before Thanksgiving celebrations begin. And many will stay through Sunday. Even Monday.
“The return trips are split between Sunday and Monday,” says Donati.
Donati estimates more than a third of Thanksgiving travelers return Sunday.
Thanksgiving is also a big time of year for people to travel to Arizona. The state's mild climate makes it a destination for many people, who then convince their relatives to visit them for a turkey dinner in the sunshine.
According to Donati, holiday visitors will contribute to overall improving tourism numbers in Arizona this year.
“If you look at tourism output, which is how much folks spend in Arizona on hotels, restaurants, entertainment and such,” Donati says, “Arizona is actually leading the mountain region.”
Gas prices, always a factor on holiday travel, are off summer highs but up from Thanksgiving 2011. The average price across the state for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel is $3.45, compared to $3.28 a year ago.