Holiday Season to Kick Off With 55M-Plus Thanksgiving Travelers
ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving.
This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people will travel compared with last year, a 2.9-percent increase, according to AAA's 2019 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast.
"Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway," said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. "Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season."
2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast by the numbers looks like:
- Automobiles: Three million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8 percent more than last year.
- Planes: With 4.6-percent growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
- Trains, buses & cruise ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4 percent from 2018.
Beware of Wednesday Travel
For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Wednesday with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.
"With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country's major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays," said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. "Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week."
Lower Gas Prices = more Travel
Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year's Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.
Warm Weather Beckons
Warm-weather destinations will experience an influx of travelers looking to escape the start of winter. Florida is home to four of the top 10 destinations, and Hawaii makes the top of the list twice of top destinations in the U.S. this Thanksgiving. Based on advance AAA Travel bookings, the top 10 travel destinations are:
- Orlando, Fla.
- Anaheim, Calif.
- New York
- Las Vegas
- Lauderdale, Fla.
- Tampa, Fla.
- Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
For those travelers planning an international vacation for Thanksgiving, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice. Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica are AAA's top international destinations this Thanksgiving. Munich, Germany rounds out the top five.
AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America.