AAA predicting 53.4 million people to travel for Thanksgiving

Local News

FILE – In this Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, file photo, cars fill the highway two days before Thanksgiving, in San Diego. The number of Americans hitting the road for Thanksgiving in 2012, is expected to increase slightly from a year ago, according to AAA’s annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. But they’ll take shorter trips to save on gas and other costs as household budgets remain tight. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

(WFXR) — The holidays will soon be upon us and many people will be hitting the roads or taking to the skies to spend time with family.

AAA is releasing its predictions for the Thanksgiving holiday. According to the motor club, Thanksgiving numbers could be up 13 percent from last year — with 53.4 million people expected to travel. The biggest recovery since the pandemic drop will be air travel with a jump of 80 percent over the last year.

“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.”

AAA broke down their Thanksgiving holiday travel:

TotalAutomobileAirOther (Bus, Train, Cruise)
2021 Forecast53.4M48.3M4.2M1M
2020 Actual47.1M44.5M2.3M281,000
2019 Actual56M49.9M4.6M1.5M
Data from the AAA website

The New Travel Landscape

With travel expected to be the highest single-year increase for Thanksgiving travelers, navigating the new travel landscape could give you some unwanted stress and challenges.

AAA provided helpful information to make sure you can avoid travel headaches.

  • Be Proactive: You will want to book your flights and car rentals as early as possible. Sometimes working with a travel advisor can help with those last-minute changes to travel plans or help with travel insurance options.
    • Air: AAA says that even though air travel is seeing an increase, the lowest average fair is 27.3 percent less than last year, at $132. The motor club company also states that Tuesday and Wednesday are considering the most expensive and heaviest traveled days, but Monday is considered the lightest and least expensive.
    • Hotels: AAA reporting that mid-range hotel rates increased about 39 percent. Average nightly rates are between $137 and $172 for AAA Aproved Hotels.
    • Car Rentals: AAA states that in comparison to last Thanksgiving, daily car rentals rates have increased four percent.
  • Be Patient: AAA says that you want to arrive to the airport early to get through the TSA lines and other travel checkpoints. The motor club company suggests two hours ahead of departure time for domestic travel and three hours for internatonal. You want to consider booking your flight during non-peak travel periods. If you are driving, all for extra time when traveling to your destination.
  • Be Prepared: If you are planning on driving, AAA says to schedule an inspection on your car to make sure key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes, and flue levels are good.
  • Be Protected (You and Your Trip): It’s important to know requirements and recommendations based on your vaccination status, and where you’re traveling to and from. AAA has a COVID-19 Travel Restriction Map and a TripTik app that provides helpful information.

Travel and CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for those traveling during the holiday season. The CDC states that the best way to minimize COVID risk and keep your family and friends safe is to follow these tips:

  • Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination.
  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and are traveling follow CDC’s domestic or international travel recomendations.
  • Everyone — regardless of vaccination status — must wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations

A full list of ways to celebrate safely during the holidays can be found on CDC’s website.

Big Cities and Beaches This Thanksgiving

2021 Top Thanksgiving Destinations
U.S. DestinationsInternational Destinations
Orland, Fla.Cancun, Mexico
Anaheim, Calif.Montego Bay, Jamaica
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TexasAruba
Phoenix, Ariz.Los Cabos, Mexico
Honolulu, HawaiiNassau, Bahamas
Kahului, Maui, HawaiiSt. Lucia, West Indies
Atlanta, Ga.Dublin, Ireland
Tampa, Fla. Tel Aviv, Israel
Calgary, Canada
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Paris, France
Data from the AAA website

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel

DayWorst TimeBest Time
WednesdayNoon – 8 p.m.After 9 p.m.
ThursdayNoon – 3 p.m.Before 11 a.m.
Friday1 p.m. – 4 p.m.Before 11 a.m.
Saturday2 p.m. – 7 p.m.Before Noon
Sunday1 p.m. – 7 p.m.Before Noon
Source INRIX from the AAA website

AAA states that these numbers could change as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

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