|AAA Texas predicts four million Texans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a one percent increase from last year and just about 95% of pre-pandemic volumes. On a national scale, AAA estimates 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 2% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. This year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000 across the country and sixth busiest for Texas.
“Travel for Thanksgiving continues to rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels as families and friends are eager to enjoy time together during the holiday weekend,” said AAA Texas Vice President and General Manager Galen Grillo. “Plan ahead, consider working with a trusted travel advisor and remember proper vehicle maintenance to help prevent breakdowns.”
Most travelers will drive to their destinations with around 3.6 million people traveling by car in the Lone Star State, which is similar to last year. Across America, 49 million people are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen – up 0.4% from 2021 – car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.
Air travel is up nearly 6% from 2021 in Texas with more than 238,000 leisure travelers flying to their Thanksgiving destinations. On a national scale, plane passenger numbers are expected to be nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. AAA Texas Travel Advisors suggest reserving a parking spot ahead of time and arrive early. Also, anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.
Texans are also ramping up travel by other modes of transportation. More than 77,000 plan to travel by bus, cruise or train which is up 22% from last year and down 13% from 2019 levels. For Americans, more than 1.4 million travelers are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 24% from 2021 and 96% of the 2019 volume. “With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way,” said AAA Texas Spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”
Top Thanksgiving Travel Destinations
Busiest Corridors and Best/Worst Times to Travel
INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas, with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. Highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11am on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4pm-8pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Holiday Forecast Methodology: A Brief Overview
In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit – a world leader in critical information, analytics, and expertise to forge solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide – developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices, including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and IHS Markit have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.
Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken.
The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and IHS Markit forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 10, 2022.
Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Period
For purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. The Wednesday to Sunday period is consistent with previous years.
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 63 million members across North America, including over 56 million in the United States. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.