The AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving via car, plane, train, ferry or cruise ship. That’s a 4.8 percent increase over last year, and an overwhelming majority of those will be traveling in vehicles, which means traffic jams and delays.
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.
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.
“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.
Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast by the numbers
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.
Higher Gas Prices Not Keeping Holiday Travelers Home
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.
“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.
Drivers Beware: Thanksgiving’s Terrible Traffic
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.
AAA to Rescue Nearly 360,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists at the roadside this Thanksgiving.
The worst culprits are dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends you take your vehicle now 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.
SEE ALSO How to avoid road rage
|Worst Times to Hit the Road in America’s Largest Cities|
|Metro Area||Worst Day for Travel||Worst Time for Travel||Worst Hotspot||Delay Multiplier|
|Houston||Monday||2:00 – 4:00 PM||TX-8 Beltway E, TX249 to I69||2.75|
|Boston||Tuesday||4:00 – 6:00 PM||I-495 S, exit 41 to 33||3.5x|
|Seattle||Tuesday||4:00 – 6:00 PM||I-5 S, exit 178 to 149||2x|
|Atlanta||Tuesday||5:00 – 7:00 PM||I-75 N, exit 216 to 227||2.75x|
|Washington, D.C.||Tuesday||5:00 – 7:00 PM||Capital Beltway Clockwise||2.5x|
|Detroit||Tuesday||5:30 – 7:30 PM||US-23 N, exit 35 to 49||2.5x|
|New York||Tuesday||6:00 – 8:00 PM||I-95 W, exit 7 to Hamilton Bridge||3.5x|
|San Francisco||Wednesday||1:00 – 3:00 PM||I-680 N, exit 8 to 21||4x|
|Chicago||Wednesday||2:30 – 4:30 PM||I-94 W, exit 40A to 1||2x|
|Los Angeles||Wednesday||2:30 – 4:30 PM||I-5 S, exit 79 to 54B||2x|
Tomorrow we’ll have the outlook for Thanksgiving holiday flights, getting to and from the airport, and hotel and rental car prices.