Travel is expected to rebound within 5 percent of prepandemic levels for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA-The Auto Club Group.

The West North Central census region that includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and four other states will see almost 20% of people travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA said in a news release.

Last year many people did not travel because of the pandemic, said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota director of public affairs for the AAA-The Auto Club Group.

“Now with the rebound in the economy with the vaccinations readily available with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance allowing for more freedom of travel, people are going to get out and take advantage of the opportunity to see family and friends over the holidays,” he said.

With AAA predicting an 8% increase in road travel, LaDoucer said it is possible to see some tragedy on the highway.

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“It is a holiday where people tend to indulge a little bit in alcohol and sometimes forget they should plan on alternate ways to get home or plan to stay where they are,” he said. “We urge everyone to keep safety in mind so they can enjoy the holiday and future holidays together as family and not to do things that might put themselves and others in jeopardy by drinking and driving, driving distracted or speeding.”

Travel expenses could be higher this year with the rise in gas prices, daily car rental fees as well as hotel rates.

Mid-range hotel rates range between $137 and $172 for AAA-approved hotels, which is an increase of about 39%, AAA said. Daily car rental rates have also increased about 4% compared to last Thanksgiving.

Gas prices in North Dakota reached a seven-year high in October.

The lowest gas price in Jamestown as of Wednesday, Nov. 17, was $3.15 a gallon at Casey’s, according to GasBuddy.com. The average gas price in Stutsman County is $3.18 a gallon.

LaDoucer said the higher prices are not deterring people from traveling for Thanksgiving.

“The cost of items doesn’t tend to impact travel during these holiday periods,” he said. “If needed, families will cut back on eating out or stay with friends and family instead of staying in hotels, perhaps tightening their budgets on gift giving during the Christmas giving period. Other than that, they will find ways to get out and spend time with their family during Thanksgiving.”

Travel through Jamestown Regional Airport

Katie Hemmer, Jamestown Regional Airport director, said paid passenger boardings are up in November and a lot of that is because of the upcoming holiday season.

“I think people are still recovering from the isolation in 2020,” she said. “They are still making up for a lot of travel, really trying to put a value on meeting up in person with their families. Some of it is regular travel and some of it is a culmination of not traveling for a period of time and making up for that.”

Jamestown Regional Airport offers direct flights to Denver on United Airlines, which is operated by SkyWest Airlines.

Prices for a round trip to Denver have increased for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday when checking on the prices Wednesday, Nov. 17. Hemmer said the limited amount of seats and connection flights to final destinations can influence prices.

“If you are seeing increased prices close to your travel destination it is probably because there are very few seats still available,” she said. “We generally see pretty consistent prices for just that round trip to Denver ticket. But then there can be a lot of fluctuation in prices for the different connections. So depending on how many flights are available and how many seats are available for that next stop ... of your trip that can kind of influence the price.”

She said prices could decrease if an extra flight is added to a destination where demand is high.

“For example, if United has seen a demand for let’s say flights to Seattle, if they add an additional flight from Denver to Seattle, that could reduce the total roundtrip ticket price for somebody traveling Jamestown to Denver, Denver to Seattle,” she said.

Even with more people potentially flying out of Jamestown Regional Airport, the airport recommends that people arrive 90 minutes before the flight is scheduled to depart.

Hemmer said people should keep in mind that when they go through the airport security that their baggage can be inspected and gifts should not be wrapped.

“It is just a good reminder when you are traveling and bringing your presents along, do not wrap them,” she said. They may need to be inspected as you go through security or as your baggage goes through security.”

For more tips on preparing for travel on a flight, visit https://bit.ly/3Hz1mLY.