As Thanksgiving approaches, many families are choosing to forgo the traditional turkey dinner at home and instead embark on vacation getaways. According to the latest AAA predictions, over 55 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for their Thanksgiving holiday plans this year, marking a 2.3% increase compared to the previous year. This surge in travel makes the upcoming holiday season the third busiest on record since AAA began tracking data in 2000.
While spending quality time with loved ones remains a top priority for Americans during Thanksgiving, more and more people are choosing to take a break from their daily routines and explore different destinations. Bevi Powell, senior vice president of AAA East Central, explains, “This year’s forecast shows even more people are planning to get away whether it’s by car, plane, or taking a dream cruise with loved ones.”
The mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, is experiencing an even greater increase in travel. With a 2.7% rise in the number of residents planning to hit the roads and skies for Thanksgiving, over 6.8 million travelers are expected to embark on holiday journeys in this area alone.
The majority of Thanksgiving travelers will opt for a road trip, with over 6 million individuals projected to fill the streets of the mid-Atlantic region. Nationally, approximately 49 million Americans are also expected to travel by car. The affordability of fuel has likely contributed to this increase in road travel, as gas prices are 29 cents cheaper on average compared to last Thanksgiving.
While road trips dominate the travel scene, air travel continues to soar in popularity. This year, over 650,000 local travelers are expected to take to the skies during the Thanksgiving holiday, joining the 4.7 million people utilizing airports throughout the week. With a 6.6% increase in air travel compared to previous years, it’s clear that more individuals are opting for the convenience and speed of flying, despite the fact that the two days before Thanksgiving are typically the busiest and most expensive for ticket prices.
- How busy will traffic be during Thanksgiving travel?
Traffic is expected to be congested, especially near major metropolitan areas, on the day before Thanksgiving. Popular roads and highways are anticipated to experience increased delays as families come together for the holiday. Using traffic apps, local Department of Transportation (DOT) notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates can help minimize traffic frustrations.
- What are the top destinations for vacations?
While many families choose to visit relatives during Thanksgiving, several domestic and international destinations are attracting vacationers. Some popular domestic destinations include theme parks, tourist attractions, and cruise ports in locations like Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Hawaii. International hotspots with warm weather, such as Cancun, Mexico City, Punta Cana, Bahrain, Rome, and Montego Bay, are also enticing travelers.
- What are travel prices like right now?
Airfare prices continue to rise, discouraging some travelers from planning vacations. The average price for domestic flights in November and December is $681, which is 5% higher than last year. However, other expenses such as hotels and car rentals have decreased by 12% and 20% respectively. Guided tours are also 15% lower on average. For international travel, flights are 5.7% cheaper with an average cost of $1,231, while tours have seen a 21% increase in prices.