Friday, April 19, 2024

AAA: 55.4 Million Americans Expected to Travel over Thanksgiving Weekend

A VDOT sign along Interstate 66 relays travel time to Interstate 495. (Photo courtesy VDOT)

VIRGINIA BEACH — AAA is projecting 55.4 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, an increase of 2.3% over last year and the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since it began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

“For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. “Travel demand has been strong all year, and AAA’s Thanksgiving forecast reflects that continued desire to get away and spend time with loved ones.”

Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations, according to AAA. It projects 49.1 million Americans will get behind the wheel, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022.

AAA added drivers could be paying less for gas than last Thanksgiving when the national average was $3.58. This year, the national average peaked in mid-August at $3.87 and has been coming down since, despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market. As of Nov. 13, the average gas price in Hampton Roads is $3.04.

AAA said it expects 4.7 million people will fly over Thanksgiving, an increase of 6.6% compared to 2022 and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005. According to AAA, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. While Sunday is typically the busiest day to return home, AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving.

The number of people traveling by cruise, bus, and train over Thanksgiving is up nearly 11% over last year, and AAA expects 1.55 million travelers will head out of town using these other modes of transportation, which took a huge hit during the pandemic but have rebounded nicely.

“The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback,” Twidale added. “Thanksgiving cruises are mostly sold out, with many travelers looking to spend the holiday at sea.”

Travel Time

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Wednesday, Nov. 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with average travel times as high as 80% over normal in some metro areas, AAA reported, adding INRIX recommends leaving in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion.

“The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates.”

(AAA)

Holiday Booking Prices

This holiday season, AAA said travelers are generally paying less for domestic trips compared to last year and more for international vacations. The exception is airfare, which is slightly more expensive for domestic flights this season and a bit lower for international flights.

Average booking prices for November and December, according to AAA data:

FLIGHTS

  • The average price for a domestic flight is $681, up 5% from 2022.
  • The average price for an international flight is $1,231, down 5.7% from last year.

HOTELS

  • The average price for a domestic hotel stay is $598, down 12% from 2022.
  • The average price for an international hotel stay is $772, up 5% from last year.

RENTAL CARS

  • The average price for a domestic rental car reservation is $590, down 20% from 2022.
  • The average price for an international rental car reservation is $696, up 9% from last year.

CRUISES

  • The average price for a domestic cruise is $1,507, down 12% compared to 2022.
  • The average price for an international cruise is $2,902, up 24% from last year.

TOURS

  • The average price for a domestic tour is $1,058, down 15% compared to 2022.
  • The average price for an international tour is $1,208, up 21% from last year.

Top Holiday Destinations

Warm weather destinations, theme parks, tourist attractions, historic sites, and cruise port cities top the list of domestic and international destinations this holiday season, AAA said.

(AAA)

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