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750,000 Oregonians expected to travel for holiday

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The second-highest number of travelers on record, and the most since 2005, are expected to hit the road, skies or water for the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday, with close to three quarters of a million people projected to travel in Oregon, AAA reported.

About 748,000 Oregonians are expected to travel during the holiday, an increase of 44,000 from last year.

“It’s (Oregon’s) strongest year since 2005,” said Marie Dodds, AAA Oregon/Idaho director of government and public affairs.

Travel is defined as a trip of at least 50 miles, AAA officials said. AAA’s projections are based on surveys, research and economic forecasting data compiled by researchers from AAA and IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider.

A majority of Oregon’s travelers — 643,000 — will travel by car, up 34,000 from 2018. In 2016 and 2017, 592,000 and 647,000 Oregonians, respectively, made trips.

More than 84,000 Oregonians will travel by plane this week, AAA estimated.

About 55 million people across the U.S. are forecast to travel over Thanksgiving, with 49.3 million projected to drive, and 4.45 million flying. Close to 1.5 million will travel by boat, train or bus.

In the Pacific Region, made up of Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii, AAA says about 9.5 million people will travel, up about 300,000 from the 9.2 million in 2018.

The number of travelers hitting the road will start to increase Monday and will peak Wednesday, designated the worst day to travel. The hours of 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday are expected to be the most congested periods for drivers, AAA reported.

About 25% of all travelers typically return home the following Monday or later.

Consumer confidence is a key reason for the increase. Oregon gas prices, which averaged about $3.29 a gallon Thursday — almost 70 cents more than the national average — typically have little impact on holiday travel.

“Gas prices have a very, very minimal impact on people’s decision to travel for Thanksgiving,” Dodds said, “even those years when gas prices were significantly higher.”

When gas prices are high, those with travel plans won’t cancel the trip but may make cutbacks in other areas.

“The reason is simple,” Dodds said. “Can you imagine calling your mom and saying, ‘Yeah, Mom, gas prices are close to $4 a gallon. I’m not coming this year. She would not be happy about that.”

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Andy Atkinson / ashland tidingsA flight from Los Angeles makes its approach into the Medford Airport on Thursday afternoon over the Rogue Valley Expressway.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA passanger flight out of Los Angleles makes it's approach into the Medford Airport Thursday afternoon over the Rogue Valley Expressway south exchange at Crater Lake Hwy.