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Cheap gas, more travel for Thanksgiving

Gas prices at a station along London Road in Duluth were as low as $1.82 a gallon late last week. (Clint Austin/ Forum News Service)

Fueled by the cheapest November gas prices in years, Americans are expected to travel more for Thanksgiving this year than any year since before the Great Recession.

AAA last week forecasted that 48.7 million Americans will travel for the holiday, the busiest Thanksgiving period on U.S. roads and in the skies since 2007.

AAA said that between Nov. 23 and 27, a full million more Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their home compared to last year's Thanksgiving holiday.

The average price of a gallon of gas Monday, Nov. 21, was about $1.95 in Minnesota and $2 in Wisconsin, according to GasBuddy Minnesota. The national average Monday was $2.13 per gallon.

In Minnesota, gas is about 25 cents per gallon less than Thanksgiving 2015 and more than $1 per gallon cheaper than 2014. For a 350 mile round-trip from the Twin Cities to Duluth, for example, for a car that gets 25 mpg, this year's trip will cost nearly $15 less than 2014.

Other than a few months last winter, this is the cheapest gas prices have been since 2008, after the Great Recession hit hard and Americans curtailed their driving.

AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.

The AAA travel forecast was assembled at research firm IHS, which said it considered jobs, household net worth, the stock market, prices for gasoline and airline tickets, and other factors.

The forecast calls for 43.5 million Americans to take long car trips, 1.9 percent more than last year. AAA expects 3.7 million will travel by air, a 1.6 percent increase. Bus and train trips will grow less than 1 percent, the auto group said.