More than 55 million people are expected to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA.
This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, after the record set in 2005.
Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people will travel compared to last year — a 2.9% increase. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.
“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”
For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by car INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Wednesday with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.
“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”
Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips.
For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.
The theme parks of Orlando and southern California, and other warm-weather destinations will see an influx of travelers looking to escape the start of winter. Florida is home to four of the top 10 destinations, and Hawaii twice graces the list of top destinations in the U.S. this Thanksgiving, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:
- Orlando, Fla.
- Anaheim, Calif.
- New York City
- Las Vegas
- Lauderdale, Fla.
- Tampa, Fla.
- Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
- Phoenix, Ariz.