OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – AAA Oklahoma predicts more than 480,000 Oklahomans will be traveling this holiday.

AAA Oklahoma has released some statistics for drivers who are among the 55.4 million travelers in the U.S. visiting somewhere else for Thanksgiving.

Road travel and gas prices

Similar to other travel holidays, 9 in 10 travelers – or around 442,000 Oklahomans – will be driving to their Thanksgiving destinations. The number of road travelers has gone up slightly within this past year and AAA assures those drivers will feel less pain at the pumps during their trip.

“The good news is gas prices are lower than last year in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips,” says Rylie Fletcher, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “For Oklahomans, the news is even better at more than 40 cents less than the national average.”

AAA has a variety of resources to help motorists save on fuel:

“Drivers this Thanksgiving can expect cheaper gas prices,” Fletcher added. “Ten states now have sub $3 a gallon averages, and more will join soon. So savvy drivers will find savings on their way to a turkey dinner this year.”

Best/worst times to travel

According to INRIX, Wednesday, November 22, will most likely be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving commute, with average travel times as high as 80% more than normal in some metro areas. INRIX suggests leaving sometime in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the holiday traffic. Highways will also be congested the Sunday after Thanksgiving as many travelers drive home.

Even the amount of air travelers is increasing this holiday. AAA Oklahoma says the number of air travelers is up nearly 4%, projecting around 32,000 Oklahoma residents taking to the skies this holiday, showing a 3.7% increase compared to 2022. Nationwide, 4.7 million Americans will travel by air for Thanksgiving.

Officials say the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest days for air travel ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back following the holiday.

“If you’re flying this Thanksgiving, airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Fletcher recommends. “Anticipate longer than usual TSA lines, and leave extra time to navigate through the airport. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if your flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.”

Other means of transportation like Bus, Train, and more have seen the largest increase from 2022. AAA predicts that approximately 12,000 Oklahomans will travel by cruise, bus, train or some other mode of transportation over the holiday, which in an increase of 6.5% over last year.

“These other modes of transportation, which took a huge hit during the pandemic, have rebounded nicely,” Fletcher says. “The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback. Thanksgiving cruises are mostly sold out, with many travelers looking to spend the holiday at sea.”

AAA Oklahoma suggests drivers prepare their vehicle ahead of the holiday to ensure a safe trip in case of unpredictable weather.

“Get a pre-trip check now to avoid a headache while traveling,” advises Fletcher.

Protect your car

  • Battery: Remove any corrosion from posts and cable connections. Clean all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a baking water and water mixture. Make sure to have your battery checked by a professional to ensure it can withstand the cold weather. A batteries usual lifespan is 3-5 years, but can fail without warning. AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers in Northwest Oklahoma City and Edmond provide free battery checks.
  • Tires: Check your tires for uneven wearing, tread depth, and cupping. Also, check your tire pressure once a month before driving when tires are exposed to the cold.
  • Engine: Have your engine checked at a reliable repair shop. Issues like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or lack of power could be caused by frigid temperatures. Engine hoses should also be looked at for wear or cracking.
  • Fluids: System fluids such as engine coolant, antifreeze, transmission or brake fluid should be monitored and changed as recommended.
  • Exhaust: It may be a good idea to have a mechanic look at the exhaust system for leaks or holes in the trunk or floorboards.
  • Brakes: Have your brakes inspected per your owner’s manual, or sooner if you’re experiencing issues like pulsations, pulling, noises while using the brake or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems as soon as possible.
  • Windshield Wipers: Replace overused blades. Purchase “winter” blades or one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad blades to protect your windshield from snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Lights: Check all lights and bulbs. Replace all burnt-out bulbs and clean grime and clouding from all lenses.

“We have been fortunate with a stretch of mostly mild weather, but cold temperatures are in the forecast this week, and the coldest months of winter are ahead,” says Fletcher. “AAA Emergency Roadside Service crews are getting ready, and we encourage drivers to be prepared as well.”

As temperatures drop, AAA Oklahoma says is also a good idea to create an emergency kit to keep in your vehicle.

The kit should include:

  • Mobile phone or navigation system with emergency contacts as well as a car charger
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks (including treats/food for pets)
  • Bag of salt, sand, cat litter or any other abrasive material. Traction mats may also be helpful
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra coats, gloves, hats, or scarves
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Cloth or paper towel rolls
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices such as flares or triangles
  • Basic toolkit

For more information, visit AAA.com.