Holiday travelers will pay more for hotel rooms, car rentals

The $150 Jeff Tonkinson spends in gas to get home to Genoa for Thanksgiving is well worth his mother's turkey dinner and homemade mashed potatoes.

The 24-year-old from San Bernardino, Calif., gets more than a week's worth of food from his mother, Becky Tonkinson.

"She's made me breakfast already, she made me a Dutch baby, which is like a big pancake," he said Monday. "And she makes great spaghetti from scratch. For Thanksgiving, her mashed potatoes are the best."

With food on the mind and cash in the wallet, more Americans are making the annual pilgrimage home to spend the holiday with loved ones.

Gas prices in Nevada are down about 5 cents a gallon compared to last year, but any savings will be eaten up by other travel costs, according to a new report from AAA Nevada.

AAA's survey finds more than 317,000 Nevadans plan to travel 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving holiday. About 81 percent will travel by car. About 14 percent plan on flying to their destinations. The number of people traveling by vehicle and air is up more than 2.5 percent from last year.

AAA estimates that 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.7 percent increase from last year's 37.3 million travelers.

Carson City gas prices have decreased an average of 13 cents to $2.49 this month. A gallon of gas is only about 4 cents cheaper than this time last year.

Travelers will face much higher prices for hotels, airfares and car rentals, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index. Holiday hotel rates are up 16 percent for AAA-Rated Three Diamond hotels. Rental car rates are up an average of 21 percent from last year. Airfares are higher too, up an average of 4 percent from 2005.

About 70 percent of Thanksgiving travelers are staying with family, which is what Tonkinson and his girlfriend are doing to save money. The Douglas High grad works as a foreman at his family's sand and gravel company in San Bernardino. His sister, Elizabeth Tonkinson, lives in Carson City.

The trip is worth the six-hour drive. If he didn't do it, Tonkinson said, "I wouldn't stop getting phone calls."

"I like to be able to spend time with the people I love," he said.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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