Traveling for Thanksgiving? Here’s what you need to know

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – More than 55 million people are expected to hit the road next week to join family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to AAA, this will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005.

“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson. “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.”

Thanksgiving travel forecast
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

  • 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.

Best time to fly 

recent analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that flying the Monday before the Thanksgiving travel rush is the best option for travelers. It has the lowest average ticket price, $486, prior to the holiday and is a lighter travel day than later in the week.

Traveling on Thanksgiving Day also has its perks with the week’s lowest average price per ticket, $454.

Times NOT to be on the road

If you’re traveling by car, expect major delays throughout the week, with trips on Wednesday taking as much as four times longer.

Lower gas prices fuel 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.

Car rental costs peak, hotel prices mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget more for a rental car this year, which have reached their highest prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday, since 1999, at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night.

For those 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, with Munich, Germany rounding out the top five.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider.

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