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How Will Sandy Impact Holiday Travel? [AUDIO]

If you’re planning to head out on the roads this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, you won’t be alone.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

More than one million New Jerseyans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday. While the 43.3 million traveling nationwide is a slight increase over last Thanksgiving weekend, New Jersey’s numbers are virtually unchanged from 2011. The impact of Hurricane Sandy is the one factor that could change some of the numbers.

“The survey was conducted prior to Sandy,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Tracy Noble. “So, the true impact that could have on travel in New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast throughout the holiday weekend remains to be seen. Many residents may cancel their travel plans and some may change them to accommodate or assist displaced friends and family.”

There also are rental car shortages in the region. “Rental cars have become a coveted commodity by those who lost vehicles as a result of storm damage,” said Noble. “While rental car companies are gathering resources and bringing in cars from out of state to fill the gap, the added demand for cars during a holiday week is presenting a challenge. AAA recommends you contact your rental car agency to ensure your reservation. Many companies have growing waiting lists.”

Trips by automobile are the dominant mode of transportation for holiday travel in New Jersey with 89 percent planning to go by car. This is a slight decrease of .01 percent from last Thanksgiving. Fewer folks plan to travel by air as well. That number is down 2.4 percent from last year. Meanwhile, there’s been a more than 10 percent increase in the number of New Jersey residents planning to use alternate modes of transportation to get where they’re going this holiday weekend.

The national average price of gasoline will likely drop to between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon by Thursday, which is similar to last year’s average of $3.32, which was the most expensive ever on Thanksgiving. But, the national average has declined by nearly 40 cents a gallon since early October and is expected to continue dropping through the end of the year.

“In New Jersey, for the first time in a long time, our gas prices are higher than the national average, because of the storm. Once things return to normal, we’re expecting that average to drop below the national average once again,” said Noble.

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