9 of the 10 most popular Thanksgiving travel destinations to reunite with loved ones


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We’re less than a month away from Thanksgiving travelers hitting the skies, setting a record. There were more than 2.3 million passengers traveling on US airline flights and over 16 million on US seagoing travel in 2016, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

During the 2017 holiday season travelers set the record with 2.8 million passengers on US airline flights and 17.7 million on US seagoing travel — year-over-year increases of 17.2% and 15.2% respectively.

“Travel is back on track for this Thanksgiving season, and looking ahead to 2019, we expect to see these modest increases continue to fuel healthy travel demand,” said Henry Harteveldt, co-founder and travel industry analyst for Atmosphere Research Group.

Travel ranks high in interest, but also scrutiny

Americans will spend $66 billion on travel this year according to US Department of Commerce, and $674 billion in 2018, according to industry experts.

Travelers have more to worry about than security issues, with record data breaches detected by CNN and other news organizations, including one where Yahoo, Anthem and Marriott exposed personal information of at least 500 million users.

“One of the toughest things about air travel this time of year is finding seats on a plane,” Harteveldt said.

Weather also will play a role in the travel this upcoming holiday season. While the north has been experiencing drier-than-usual conditions, others have been dealing with flash flooding.

“It’s never wise to fly if you’re not sure if there’s going to be severe weather on the way.” said Michael Stiles, chief operations officer for CheapOair.com.

Fuel prices also play a role, since fuel prices have been rising and hovering around $2 per gallon. Airlines will likely pass some of the cost along to the customers in their 2019 airfare and expect to earn plenty of profit along the way.

Gas prices peaked in June 2016 at $2.15 per gallon and dropped to $1.65 in early July 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Since then prices have fallen back to $2.01 today.

“Fuel prices are the second most costly element of an airline’s cost structure after labor, and the rate at which oil prices move leads to changes in profitability,” Stiles said.

What to pack

Flying next month? Is your stress level high? Keep in mind that for most purposes, traveling 2.3 million miles for a turkey and pumpkin pie means packing several dozens of pounds.

“Packing for this amount of travel will take many more trips, and while travel distance is significant, weighing your clothes on a scale will give you a precise estimate of how much you should pack,” Stiles said.

And if you aren’t up for weighing everything, you can always pack a neck pillow and head to a small island to rest your weary head.

Holiday deals may not be around anymore

Happy holiday hunting. This week we’re rolling out a four-day event for holiday travel, centered around flying and being creative with travel deals.

Business travelers can get some of the best airfare deals this week while other travelers may get in on the deal just for being creative. Or you may be able to get in on deals just for shopping online.

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