After a couple of years of healthy post-recession growth, Thanksgiving travel this year was expected to be up only slightly, 0.7 percent, from last year, according to AAA’s yearly Thanksgiving travel analysis. Among the 43.6 million Americans expected to journey 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, more were driving and fewer were flying. Their planned trips were shorter too, by about 120 miles on average, the travel organization said.
As car ownership declines among younger Americans, many of those hitting the road were jumping onto buses. Intercity bus service has grown in recent years with curbside companies like Megabus.
At a Greyhound terminal in downtown Denver, Eileen Lindbuchler, a 32-year-old massage therapist, hauled her bulky massage table through the line to board a bus. She had used her iPhone to coordinate bus schedules and connecting routes for the 65-mile journey to visit family in Colorado Springs and expected the effort to save her money.
“I think it’s going to be a lot cheaper,” she said. “I want to see how it works. I’ve always had to travel by car.”
Aided by smartphone apps, social media and other technology, consumers are getting better at sniffing out deals and realize they need to be flexible with dates and even the airports they chose when booking, said Courtney Scott, a senior editor at Travelocity.
“I think people are really becoming smarter, more creative travelers and shoppers,” Scott said.
Sometimes, though, no amount of creativity with an airline booking can avoid breaking the bank for those with large families.
So, Linne Katz and her five children hit the road, leaving their home in Haledon, N.J., at 1 a.m. Wednesday in hopes of getting to her father’s home in Tennessee while the sun was still up. Driving has downsides, she said.