Blessed by stable gas prices this year, more than 55 million travelers – a nearly 3% increase over last year – will stuff roadways and airports this Thanksgiving holiday, says AAA.
In its annual holiday travel survey, AAA reports Thanksgiving 2019 will see the second highest travel volume in the last two decades. The holiday record was set in 2005 when nearly 59 million folks traveled over the Turkey Day holiday period.
Of the overall 55 million travelers,
- 90% or 49.3 million will drive, the most since 2005. This is a 2.8% increase compared to last year;
- 8% or 4.45 million will fly, a 4.6% increase over last year; and
- 2% or 1.49 million, a slight 1.4 increase, will take a train, bus or cruise.
“Thanksgiving has always been one of the busiest holidays for road trips,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. “And this year will be no different since average gas prices are lower than last year.”
In fact, average national gas prices are less than this time last year. Today’s national average is $2.61, 8 cents less than this time last year; while in Connecticut, the statewide average of $2.67 is 23 cents less than last year.
“But no matter the cost of fuel,” said Mayko. “People generally travel on Thanksgiving because it’s a time for family and friends to gather. And that desire to spend time with loved ones drives an increase in travel volume.”
This holiday, people have more disposable income because wages are higher. “This means people have more money to spend on travel,” she added.
Wednesday Road Woes
- Since more holiday travelers are driving this year, they can expect more congestion. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, warns drivers to avoid major metro areas on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 26, which may take up to four times longer to travel.
Flying the Friendly Skies
- For those flying to a destination, the best option to avoid the holiday crush is Monday, November 24. It’s also the best day for the lowest average ticket price before the holiday. Although impractical for many, traveling on the actual holiday will net travelers the lowest average price, according to an analysis of three years’ worth of AAA flight booking data.
Warm Weather Beckons
- So where are we going this Thanksgiving? Vacationers are heading to warm-weather destinations such as Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Miami, Anaheim, Honolulu, Maui, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Nassau, Cancun, Punta Cana and Montego Bay. The Big Apple also appeals to many travelers this year.
AAA’s Thanksgiving projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. The holiday travel period is a five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 1.