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Dramatic Increase in Travel for Thanksgiving 2017

Jeffrey Eslinger

As the year winds down, traffic is picking up for Thanksgiving – more so than ever in recent years. This year, over 50.9 million Americans are projected to travel at least 50 miles to see their loved ones and dig into their delicious turkey dinners. If that projection proves to be accurate, that will make it the highest volume of Thanksgiving travelers in over a dozen years. The reason? According to Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing, “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.”

Here are some of the forecasted travel volume stats, reported by AAA, about this history-in-the-making Thanksgiving week.

  • 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year. 
  • Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
  • The largest growth in holiday travel is by air, at 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers. 
  • Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent, equivalent to 1.48 million travelers.
  • Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014. 
  • Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.

These projections from AAA are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise – and by information gathered by INRIX, the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Historical travel volume estimates come from DK Shifflet, an MMGY Global company's, TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM, a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. 

Judging from these calculations, the roads will be just as full as the stomachs by the end of November. With all this in mind, we advise you to plan ahead and leave early when traveling this holiday season. Additionally, you can read the full AAA article to learn more about traffic hotspots, the worst times to hit the road, the top Thanksgiving destinations and more. 

Read the full article from AAA’s newsroom here.

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