Some holiday travelers are giving thanks for the cheapest gas prices in years. But that's cold comfort to those beating a path through stormy weather, including a nor'easter affecting a wide swath of the East Coast.
Alas, the yearly Thanksgiving trek — be it across the country or across town — may be a mixed bag of the usual travel headaches with a little extra pocket money as a consolation prize. A snapshot of what it's like out there:
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HIT THE ROAD
Families piling into minivans can expect to save a few bucks at the pump with the national average gas price falling to $2.81, the lowest in nearly half a decade and 47 cents cheaper than a year ago. Factoring in average fuel economy, a family driving 300 miles will save $7.62 compared with last year.
Not a bonanza perhaps, but it's helping people like Matt Megargee.
The 23-year-old had a car full of passengers when he pulled over Wednesday to fill up his tank in Atlanta. The Calhoun, Georgia, native said he hoped to make it to Chattanooga, Tennessee, within a few hours to see his 9-year-old goddaughter, who is being treated at the Ronald McDonald House.
One traffic jam aside, the low gas prices made the cost a bit easier, he said, though he laughed about some sticker shock in Atlanta.
"It's tough to plan where you might want to stop and refuel," he said. "This ($2.97) is the highest I've seen the whole trip."
— Kathleen Foody in Atlanta
Larson and Alice Hunter and their two young children were in Anchorage, Alaska, heading home to Scammon Bay, a remote Yup'ik Eskimo community of fewer than 500 people on Alaska's western coast.
Back in Scammon Bay, the family will have two Thanksgiving feasts — first with Alice's parents, then with Larson's mother. Along with turkey and the usual fixings, they will have akutaq, or Eskimo ice cream, which usually includes berries, sugar and sometimes fish. Larson's mother will also prepare other native food.
"Moose is typical," Larson said.
"If we're lucky, snow goose," Alice said.
— Rachel D'oro in Anchorage
GOOD TIME TO GO TO VEGAS
"We figure no one wants to go to Vegas on Thanksgiving," says Alex Tingat, who came from Brisbane, Australia, with her boyfriend, Joel Akins.
During a layover in Honolulu, the couple said they found deals on accommodations during the holiday.
But while hotels may be cheaper, flights aren't. After landing in Los Angeles, they planned to take a bus to Las Vegas.
Atkins said he was bracing for travel to be more hectic once they got to the mainland U.S.
— Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu