Roughly 1-in-7 state residents will travel at least 50 miles to spend the holiday weekend with friends or family, AAA Colorado predicts.
Holiday travel overall is expected to be up 1 percent this year, even though the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Colorado on Sunday was $3.37, far above the three-year average of $2.97 a gallon for this week, according to the travel club.
But while Coloradans travel a little more this week, they're expected to spend less. The median spending is forecast to be $569 for this long holiday weekend, down 8 percent from the average $621 spent by state residents in 2011, according to AAA's survey.
The survey also found that 45 percent said they would travel Wednesday. Thirty-six percent will return Sunday and 25 percent intend to return home Monday.
Of the projected 737,000 Coloradans who will be traveling for Thanksgiving, about 87.5 percent will travel by automobile, up 0.5 percent over 2011. Air travel is expected to decrease by 1.8 percent, even though airfare prices are down 11 percent from last year, AAA stated.
With warm, dry weather forecast across the state this week, high volume should be the only obstacles to smooth travel.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said that in 2011, the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 logged 171,698 vehicles Wednesday through Sunday, about 8,000 more than in 2010. The five-day holiday average of 34,337 vehicles is more than 10,000 vehicles above the daily average for October.
Denver International Airport is expecting more than 1 million travelers, though official projections won't be made until Tuesday.
"Over the holidays we see a dramatic shift from business to leisure passengers, and many of them are relatively inexperienced travelers," DIA aviation manager Kim Day said in a statement urging travelers to plan wisely. "We want everyone to have a positive travel experience at Denver International Airport. By planning ahead, allowing extra travel time, and following our simple tips, everyone can 'Go Like a Pro.'"
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