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The Li family of Santa Rosa is packing up the Subaru Outback for a road trip to two national treasures this holiday week: Yosemite National Park and Disneyland.

With spread-out relatives, it can be a difficult choice for families on where to go for Thanksgiving, the holiday most associated with togetherness – in addition to the pumpkin pie.

Do you drive? Do you fly? Do you just stay home and host dinner for friends who don't have family in town?

AAA, North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, projects 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year.

The Lis are among the 90 percent of travelers, or 38.9 million, who will travel by automobile.

Both figures are slightly down, less than 2 percent, from last year.

Mike Li and his wife, Ginelle Nikkel Li, decided this year to pack up their two boys, ages 5 and 3, and the two family dogs – including a puppy – and drive to Gold Country and Yosemite for a few days.

His parents are in Southern California, but a single-shot drive seemed insane, given the crew.

"The kids would die if we went nine hours in a car," he said. "So we're just going to hang out in Yosemite for a few days."

Then — and this is a surprise for the kids — they will drop the dogs off at Mike's parents' house in Newport and spend Thanksgiving Day in The Magic Kingdom.

Then back to his parent's home for a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal, but one that honors their family's heritage: garlic and ginger Dungeness crab and roasted duck instead of turkey.

The Lis will have company on the highways, with 5.1 million other Californians planning to travel from home to a holiday get-together, 4.4 million of whom are expected to be on the roads.

As slightly fewer people drive and fly, more are using trains or boats, AAA said, an increase of 18 percent this year than in 2012.

Amtrak has added 600 to 700 extra seats from Wednesday through Sunday to the San Joaquin and Capital Corridor lines, which head from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Bakersfield. Another 4,200 extra seats were added to the Pacific Surfliner route, which runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, rail spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.

Nationally, AAA projects that air travel will fall by 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers, down from from 3.26 million in 2012. In California, about half a million will fly, down by 5 percent.

Horizon Air flights out of Sonoma County's airport are booked "above the norm both into and out of Santa Rosa," said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey. The company doesn't reveal specific passenger numbers.

Kent Evans, the business manager for Petaluma's AAA office, said plan-ahead travelers booked Disneyland and Hawaii trips months ago. Others coming in now are picking up free-to-members travel guides and maps.

"A lot of people are heading to Arizona, looking for that warmer climate," he said. "A lot of folks do the local things unless they have that time off. A lot of folks can't get the time off."

As usual, the day before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel, with 37 percent of travelers departing Wednesday – although savvy travelers know that flying on Thanksgiving Day can be a bargain.

In Sonoma County, fall is typically a slow time for tourism, but lodging numbers indicate an upward trend, said Tim Zahner, chief marketing officer for Sonoma County Tourism.

"Hotels and other lodgings are seeing very strong demand and bookings, more than we're used to seeing at this time, when it usually drops off," he said.

Occupancy in Sonoma County overnight accommodations was up 8.3 percent through October, compared with the same 10 months in 2012. Comparing month over month, this October was up 6.5 percent.

"That's a very strong increase," Zahner said. "You are seeing people who for many years were staying home or traveling close to home. Now people are going further."

Good news for those getting behind the wheel — gas prices nationally are at the cheapest level of the year, AAA said. In some states, gas can be had for less than $3 a gallon, although Sonoma County's prices are closer to the $3.50 range.

For folks traveling on the highways this week, law enforcement authorities advise common sense, patience and caution to navigate the busy roads.

"Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled holidays, with millions of people hitting the roadways to celebrate and give thanks with loved ones," said Russia Chavis, acting Director of the state Office of Traffic Safety. "Help yourself and others stay safe on the road this holiday season: Buckle up, stay off your cell phone and don't drink and drive."

Local law enforcement and the California Highway Patrol will be out in force into throughout the long Thanksgiving weekend, focusing on seat belt usage, cellphone texting and talking, and impaired driving.

"All too often, we see crash victims who were caught up in the excitement of the Thanksgiving holiday and didn't arrive safely at their destination," said Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm in an announcement that his department will focus on seat belt usage this week.

"We want to remind everyone who will be on the roads to please buckle up – every trip, every time – so you can give thanks this holiday season and enjoy the time with your loved ones."

During the 2011 Thanksgiving period, the most recent statistics available, 249 people were killed nationwide in traffic collisions. Half of them were not wearing seat belts. In California, 24 people were killed, 10 of whom weren't using safety restraints.

There were no traffic fatalities in Sonoma County last Thanksgiving holiday, according to Press Democrat archives.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.)