AAA: More Than 54 Million Americans to Travel this Thanksgiving, the Most Since 2005
INRIX predicts travel times could be up to four times longer over the holiday week
ORLANDO, Fla. (November 12, 2018) – AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. For the 48.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.
“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Travel senior vice president. “This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25.
By the Numbers: 2018 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast
- Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 48.5 million – will hit the road this Thanksgiving, nearly 5 percent more than last year.
- Planes: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air, at 5.4 percent, with 4.27 million travelers.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 1.4 percent, with a total 1.48 million passengers. INRIX expects delays getting to the nation’s busiest airports could be as long as an hour and a half.
- Gas Prices: Motorists can expect to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years, with a national average of $2.79 as of November 1, 31-cents more than a year ago.
Drivers Beware: Thanksgiving’s Terrible Traffic
“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” says Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice to drivers is to avoid commuting times in major cities altogether or plan alternative routes.”
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion Thanksgiving week during the early evening commute period, with travel times starting to increase on Monday. Drivers in San Francisco, New York City and Boston will see the largest delays – nearly quadruple normal drive times.
In most cases, the best days to travel will be on Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday. Drivers should expect increased travel times on Sunday as most holiday travelers will be making their way home after the long weekend.
This year motorists can also expect to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years, with a national average of $2.79 as of November 1, 31-cents more than a year ago. “Motorists have become accustomed to this year’s more expensive gas prices and won’t let higher fuel costs deter them from taking Thanksgiving road trips,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano.
AAA to Rescue Nearly 360,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists at the roadside this Thanksgiving. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
Thanksgiving Travel Planning Tools
The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android is a great resource for people traveling over the holiday season. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
In addition to the AAA Mobile app, AAA Minneapolis welcomes appointments and walk-ins to see our travel agents, who can help plan everything from driving routes to airfare to accommodations for any trip. AAA also offers free maps for members, available for pick up at any of our locations.
AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. View the complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast.
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small. Learn more at INRIX.com.