More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving according to a recent report from AAA.
This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since the company began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. 1.6 million more people will travel compared to last year’s 54.3 million. The vast majority of those people will be driving.
While gas prices have been fluctuating, they are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year. For the majority, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.
According to INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expect Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.
“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.”
By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast
· Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
· Planes: With 4.6% 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 and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.
For those 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.
|Metro Area||Worst Time Wednesday, Nov. 27||Delay Multiplier|
|Los Angeles||5:00-7:00 PM||3.5x|
|New York||5:15-7:15 PM||3.5x|
|San Francisco||2:00-4:00 PM||3.2x|
|Washington DC||3:00-5:00 PM||2.8x|
“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.”