According to recent AAA estimates, 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday. With pre-pandemic volumes at 98%, that represents a 1.5% increase over 2021. This year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.
This Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the last 20 years, “families and friends are eager to spend time together,” says Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA. “Whether you’re flying or driving, prepare ahead of time and bring your patience.”
Like last year, most travellers will use their cars to get where they’re going. It is anticipated that almost 49 million people will commute by car. Despite a 0.4% increase from 2021 in Thanksgiving travel by car, car travel is still 2.5% below 2019 levels.
With 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year, air travel is up almost 8% over 2021. That represents a rise of more than 330,000 travellers and almost 99% of the volume for 2019. Parking spots at airports fill up quickly, so Twidale advises making a reservation and getting there early. “Expect lengthy TSA lines. Avoid checking bags whenever you can to give yourself more flexibility in case of flight delays or schedule changes.”
Americans are increasing their use of other forms of transportation as well. For Thanksgiving, more than 1.4 million people are taking buses, trains, or cruise ships to leave town. That represents a 23% increase from 2021 and 96% of the volume of 2019. Twidale continues, “It’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way now that travel restrictions have been lifted and more people feel comfortable taking public transportation again. “Expect crowds on your trip and at your destination, whichever mode of transportation you have selected. If your schedule is flexible, think about travelling outside of peak hours during the holiday rush.”