Last-minute deals for Turkey Day travelers

November 23, 2009 (CHICAGO) A lot of people decided a "stay-cation" was the best choice for the Thanksgiving holiday. The reasons range from the cost to what can sometimes be the hassles of travel. But now, some experts say, you may want to think again.

Chicagoan Claude Raines could hit the road but like so many this Thanksgiving holiday season he's not.

"I plan on staying with family close to home this year," said Raines.

While some decided months ago to put off traveling because it was too expensive, the resurgence of last minute bargains, along with some relief at the pump, have others making late travel plans.

"Cancun hotels are cheap -- 20 percent lower -- Aruba and Puerta Vallarta, those warm weather destinations. Vegas has great pricing -- 10 percent cheaper over the holiday," said Jeanenne Tornatore, Orbitz travel expert.

A survey by finds Chicago's O'Hare Airport will be the busiest airport over Thanksgiving. Although AAA Chicago says air travel over the same weekend will be down. It has declined steadily, by 62 percent , over the course of a decade.

"While still finding great deals and booking last minute, what they're really booking well ahead into the future," said Beth Mosher, AAA Chicago.

The auto club also reports travel across the nation is projected to go up just over 1.5 percent, while travel in Illinois over this holiday will increase by 3 percent, possibly because of more moderate gas prices.

Ed Shurna and his wife plan to head to St. Louis this week.

"It's cheaper than flying and she has a Prius, so our gas mileage is a little better," said Shurna.

"I'm only going to Milwaukee. It's quicker and gas cost too much," said Milette Parker, holiday traveler.

The day before Thanksgiving, Amtrak expects a 70 percent increase in passengers than those carried on an average Wednesday last year.

"We're putting extra trains out and extra cars on trains to accommodate all these people. The biggest day will be Wednesday," said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesperson.

Metra and CTA are also trying to lure those who have decided to stay close to home. CTA will have extra service on their buses routes and rail lines.

The suburban rail service will operate extra "get-a-way" trains on Wednesday and $5 unlimited ride fares on Thursday and Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season.

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