Family eating Thanksgiving Dinner around the table


Travel Forecast: 55 Million Americans Will Travel This Thanksgiving

Written By: CarPro | Nov 21, 2022 12:24:11 PM

Gas prices are falling at the pump ahead of Thanksgiving, according to the American Automobile Association. In data released Monday, November 21st, AAA says the national average for a gallon of gas dropped 11 cents this past week, to $3.66. Still, keep in mind that even with the  price drop, we'll still see the highest Thanksgiving national average price on record since AAA started keeping track in 2000.   The national average is expected to be about 20 cents more than a year ago.

“The national average has fallen sharply since the June peak of nearly $5.02,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But this Thanksgiving will be about 20 cents higher than a year ago, and a dollar more per gallon than a pre-pandemic 2019. However, we can be thankful that gas prices are moving in the right direction for now.”

AAA predicts that travel will nearly reach pre-pandemic levels this year, with 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes.  AAA projects it to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.

As you'd expect, most people will drive to their destinations like last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car.  Even though Thanksgiving road trips are up 0.4% from 2021, car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.

aaa-thanksgiving-travel-forecastSource: AAA.

Here's a quick overview of the numbers:

  • Road travel up .04 from 2021 (Nearly 49 million Americans)
  • Bus, Train or Cruise Ship travel up 23% from 2021  (1.4 million Americans)
  • Air travel up 8% over 2021 (4.5 million Americans)

Air travel is seeing an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume.   

"Airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Twidale suggests. “Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.”

Peak Holiday Commute Times

AAA says highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest.  The peak travel time is Wednesday afternoon.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” says Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the holiday weekend. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Best & Worst Times to Travel (by car)

Date Worst travel time Best travel time
11/23/22 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Before 8:00 AM, After 8:00 PM
11/24/22 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 6:00 PM
11/25/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM
11/26/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
11/27/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM


For a list of peak congestion times by a select number of Metro areas, visit AAA's newsroom.

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