AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year.
This represents a 1.9% increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007 before the Republican led Great Recession. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy under the Obama Administration during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. Despite recent incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.
“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving,” AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said. “Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones.”
Driving Most Popular Mode of Travel
The clear majority, more than 89%, of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9% compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6%, with 3.69 million Americans suffering under the treatment of customer despising airlines on their way to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers.
Thanksgiving Gas Prices
Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.17, 12 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.05). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85.
Thanksgiving Airfare, Hotel, Car Rental Prices Mixed
Per AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to increase a whopping 21% this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $205 for a roundtrip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $123. Daily car rental rates will average $52, 13% lower than last Thanksgiving.
This year’s top destinations for Thanksgiving include many popular west coast cities, as well as perennial family-friendly favorites. The most popular destinations this Thanksgiving, based on AAA.com bookings, are:
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- San Francisco, California
- San Diego, California
- Orlando, Florida
- New York City, New York
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Anaheim, California
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Seattle, Washington
AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends that motorists check the condition of their battery and tires and pack emergency kits in their vehicles before heading out on a holiday getaway. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.