Traveling to see family this Thanksgiving? You aren’t alone. According to a travel forecastPDF download from AAA, 53.4 million people are planning on traveling in the U.S. during the Thanksgiving holiday period. And 90 percent of those travelers are going by car. That means if you’re planning on getting behind the wheel, you might want to start packing the trunk now to beat Thanksgiving traffic.
For years, sitting in stop-and-go traffic in a vehicle filled with foil-covered casseroles was as much a Thanksgiving tradition as fighting with your in-laws about politics. The COVID-19 pandemic changed that in 2020 (well, the former, not the latter). While travel has not returned to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, there are 6.4 million more people traveling this year than in 2020. Compared to last year, that’s an 8.4 percent increase for car travel and an 80 percent increase for air travel. In fact, with nearly two million more people traveling by air this year, it’s the largest one-year increase in history.
AAA says there are some economic factors leading to the upcoming Thanksgiving travel binge. They note that personal income is up, while the unemployment rate has fallen. While gas prices have increased more than a dollar since last year, they don’t seem to be having a large effect on travel plans.