This Thanksgiving, a whopping 55.4 million folks are gearing up for travel adventures, a 2.3% increase from last year, making it the third-highest travel season since AAA started keeping tabs in 2000. Paula Twidale, Senior VP of AAA Travel, shared, “Thanksgiving and travel are like a dynamic duo for many Americans. This year, the urge to get away and spend quality time with loved ones is stronger than ever.”
Hitting the road is the popular choice, with 49.1 million Americans opting to drive, a 1.7% increase from 2022. The silver lining? Gas prices might be a bit friendlier compared to last year’s average of $3.58. Despite global tensions, the national average has been on a downward trend since mid-August when it peaked at $3.87.
Taking to the skies is gaining popularity too, with 4.7 million people expected to fly, a 6.6% increase from 2022 and the most air travelers since 2005. The hustle and bustle are real on the Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving, and those days also tend to dent your wallet a bit more. For returning home, Sunday usually steals the show, but AAA data reveals Monday is also a popular post-Thanksgiving flight day.
Interestingly, travel by cruise, bus, and train has seen an impressive 11% uptick from last year. Approximately 1.55 million travelers are opting for these alternative modes, which took a pandemic hit but are now bouncing back strong. Twidale noted, “The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback, with Thanksgiving cruises nearly sold out as many choose to celebrate the holiday at sea.”
Get ready for some holiday traffic updates! INRIX, the transportation data whiz, predicts that Wednesday, November 22, will be the grand champion of road chaos during Thanksgiving travel. Brace yourself for up to 80% longer travel times in certain metro areas. If you’re looking to dodge the worst of it, consider hitting the road in the morning or after 6 p.m.
Bob Pishue, the transportation guru at INRIX, warns, “The day before Thanksgiving is famous for turning our roads into a traffic nightmare. Expect some serious delays, especially around major cities. To keep your cool, stay informed about when and where the traffic is piling up. Use traffic apps, keep an eye on local DOT notifications, and dial into 511 services for real-time updates.”