AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Lloyd Albert, AAA Northeast Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday to Sunday, November 22-26.
By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast
Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at five percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
Locally busy: More than 2.2 million New Englanders are among those traveling, over 1.9 million of them by car.
Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week – as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Worst Time to Travel
5:00 – 6:00 PM
San Francisco, CA
4:00 – 5:45 PM
Los Angeles, CA
3:15 – 6:00 PM
5:15 – 7:15 PM
New York, NY
5:30 – 6:30 PM
4:45 – 6:00 PM
3:45 – 5:30 PM
3:00 – 5:15 PM
5:45 – 7:00 PM
3:00 – 5:30 PM
The worst traffic hotspot during Thanksgiving week in each of the 10 most congested cities in the U.S. are:
Top Traffic Hotspot in America’s Most Congested Cities
Los Angeles, CA
I-5 S at Valley View Ave
New York, NY
I-495 E at NY-106/NY-107
San Francisco, CA
I-80 E at Pinole Valley Rd
I-75 N at Chastain Rd
I-95 N at Congress Ave
I-95 S at US-17/US-1
US-75 S at I-45/I-3
I-90 W at I-84/US-20
I-90 W at I-190
I-405 S at WA-167
Across the country, travelers that take to the sky must account for long security lines, but also increased drive times to the airport. AAA and INRIX expect delays getting to the nation’s busiest airports could be as long as an hour.
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.
New York City, New York
Las Vegas, Nevada
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
San Francisco, California
Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repairfacilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.