NEW YORK — The number of Americans hitting the road this Thanksgiving is expected to increase slightly from a year ago. But they’ll take shorter trips to save on gas and other costs as household budgets remain tight.

AAA says Tuesday in its annual Thanksgiving forecast that a stronger economy is needed to spur a bigger jump in holiday travel growth. AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over Thanksgiving, up just 0.7 percent from last year.

A dramatic drop in gas prices should help holiday travel. The national average has declined 35 cents per gallon in the last month. AAA expects further declines through the holiday, although the price of gas on Thanksgiving Day should be close to last year’s record of $3.32 per gallon.

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