Whatever the weather, Iowa’s highways will be humming with heavy traffic next weekend as people head off to be with loved ones and to share a Thanksgiving feast.

Nick Jarmusz, spokesman for AAA-Iowa, says they’re forecasting a near 5% boost in travel for the long holiday weekend, what promises to be the busiest Thanksgiving since 2005. “Building off of what’s really been a big year for travel, throughout the summer and now heading into these year-end holidays,” Jarmusz says, “about 54.3 million Americans are going to be taking a trip of 50 miles or more from home at some point between Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.”

Gasoline prices have dipped substantially in recent weeks, which is welcome news before Iowans fill up their tanks. “Gas prices are certainly a nice bonus for the folks who are going to be traveling, especially the 48.5 million that are going to be traveling by car, but that’s not really the reason that they’re making the trip,” Jarmusz says. “Americans love to go home for the holidays. They want to visit family and friends and we know if they have the means to do it, they will.”

Consumers have plenty for which to be thankful this holiday season, including higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth, Jarmusz says. Plus, those lower prices at the pump. “In Iowa right now, we’re looking at a statewide price for unleaded averaging at $2.51,” Jarmusz says. “That’s down 34 cents from this time a month ago and it’s only three-cents off from where we were at this time last year.”

In most cases, he says the best days to travel will be Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday. Drivers will likely see increased travel times on Sunday, Jarmusz says, as most holiday travelers will be making their way home after the long weekend