Those who have to travel to see family on Thanksgiving will probably hit the road instead of the jetway, according to research from AAA. The travel group just released its annual forecast of the Thanksgiving holiday travel conditions for 2012. It’s all likely attributed to tighter household budgets across the nation.

In comparison to last year, there was a .7 percent increase in the predicted number of Americans traveling this year. AAA expects that 43.6 million Americans are crossing distances 50 miles or greater. However, the large number isn’t reflective of a significant growth like the 8 and 6 percent increase in demand for travel the two previous years.

Records indicate the last peak in Thanksgiving travel occurred in 2005. Then, 26 percent more people chose to travel for the holiday than what is predicted for this year. This year’s numbers are even 14 percent below the 2007 mark. The housing crisis and unemployment rate in the recent years seems to reflect the numbers of travelers.

At the moment, the national average for gas is hovering around $3.44 per gallon. It’s not the cheapest fuel has ever been, but it is fairly affordable. Also, considering the AAA survey was conducted in October while prices were higher, it’s reasonable to expect these predictions could be lower than what may actually happen.

While the holiday traffic will be no picnic, the car is still significantly cheaper than paying for the tickets of an entire family to fly around the country. AAA predicts 3.14 million will still choose to fly, but that’s down from the 3.22 million of last year. Regardless, the holiday air travel industry will see a bump from the normal attendance rates in the period surrounding Thanksgiving.

These predictions are further bolstered by the expectation that gas prices will continue falling through the holidays. People are hopeful that the prices will drop about another 30 cents by the time anyone has to fill up the tank for the Thanksgiving road trip.