Travel headlines always seems perilous this time of year. Either soaring gas prices keep motorists from visiting their loved ones, or plummeting prices crowd the freeways with those seeking a bargain.

But in reality, price per gallon is seldom a reason to forego your visit to Aunt Mildred or Uncle Joe.

“At Thanksgiving, people are going to spend time visiting their family ... and gas prices are not going to stop them,” said Kimberly Schwind, spokeswoman for AAA Ohio.

AAA expects the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in Ohio since 2005, with more than 2.2 million Ohioans traveling at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday.

GasBuddy, which monitors gas prices nationally, predicted that the average price nationally for the holiday weekend will be $2.57 per gallon of regular unleaded. That’s mostly due to a drop of about 25 cents since Oct. 1. The low this year, nationally, was an average $2.49 per gallon on Jan. 3. Ohio’s low was an average $2.26 on Feb. 19.

A GasBuddy survey indicates that one-third of motorists will alter their plans due to prices. Schwind said that means that they might spend a night at a friend’s or relative’s house instead of a hotel and maybe partake in one less restaurant meal to save money.

“The gas budget is a very small percentage of the overall travel budget,” she said. And road trips are almost always going to be cheaper than flying.

“It’s a little bit of added money in their pocket that they didn’t think they were going to have.”

Overall, it’s the economy in general, not a single price, that can change plans, Schwind said. And the economy affects the poor and those on fixed incomes disproportionately.

And while most people look at Wednesday afternoon as the worst travel day, it’s actually Sunday, said Schwind.

“Some people will leave today,” she said of Monday. “More people will leave tomorrow. And Wednesday around 3 p.m. is probably the busiest with people leaving work early.

“But Sunday is when the majority of people are coming back, all at about the same time.”

As you’d expect, Interstate 71 will be the most crowded, linking Ohio’s three largest cities, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s network of traffic count stations.

“We’ve seen traffic volumes as a whole going up year after year in Ohio,” said Matt Bruning, ODOT spokesman.

He advises motorists to avoid the roads from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. both Wednesday and Sunday.

And, as is typical for major holidays, road work will be suspended.

“You won’t see workers out there over the holidays. We’ll try to open up as many lanes as possible,” said Bruning.

dnarciso@dispatch.com

@DeanNarciso