AAA: Busiest Thanksgiving in 13 Years

Low gas prices and a booming economy has AAA projecting 54.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday -- the most since 2005.

That includes about four million Texans who will hit the road or brave the airports this week, up nearly five percent over last year.

With so many people trying to beat Wednesday's big rush, Dan Armbruster at AAA Texas says a new trend is starting to emerge.

"It used to be that people thought Wednesday was the busiest travel day of the day, so folks started leaving earlier," he says.  "Of course that caught on and so now a lot of folks are doing it and that's why we start to see travel buildup on Monday and Tuesday, as well as the traditional Wednesday."

That leaves Thanksgiving Day as the best day to travel.

“Whether you’re driving or flying, that is going to be the least congested day of the week to travel,” says Armbruster.  “Sunday is typically the day where we see the most congestion for return travelers, so if you do have to leave on Sunday, leave early in the morning.”

Google Maps is tracking trending destinations by city and state through its Mapping Thanksgiving feature. It shows Houstonians like to dine out over the holiday week. They'll also hit the nearest liquor store both Wednesday night and again mid-afternoon Thursday.

"The top overall search during Thanksgiving last year was 'cultural centers,' possibly lots of folks trying to spend more time with their family outside of the home," says Google's Charlotte Smith.  "The top search on Thursday is always 'athletic field,' so possibly some people sneaking in some football before they go to dinner."

Smith says the most searched location unique to Texas this year is bicycle sharing.

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