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.