Travel for Thanksgiving is expected to see a significant uptick, with AAA projecting that 55.4 million travelers will venture 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period*. This year’s Thanksgiving forecast shows a 2.3% increase over last year, marking the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000. The top two years were 2005 and 2019, respectively.
Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations. AAA projects 49.1 million Americans will get behind the wheel, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022. Drivers could be paying less for gas than last Thanksgiving when the national average was $3.58. This year, the national average peaked in mid-August at $3.87 and has been coming down, despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market.
AAA expects 4.7 million people will fly over Thanksgiving, an increase of 6.6% compared to 2022 and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005. Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. While Sunday is typically the busiest day to return home, AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving.
Over Thanksgiving, the number of people traveling by cruise, bus, and train is up nearly 11% over last year. AAA expects 1.55 million travelers will head out of town using these other modes of transportation, which took a huge hit during the pandemic but have rebounded nicely.
The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback, Twidale added.
Thanksgiving cruises are mostly sold out, with many travelers looking to spend the holiday at sea.
Travel for Thanksgiving. Top Holiday Destinations
Warm weather destinations, theme parks, tourist attractions, historic sites, and cruise port cities are top domestic and international destinations this holiday season.
Cancun, Mexico City, Punta Cana, Bahrain, Rome, Montego Bay, Nassau, Bali, Papua New Guinea, Paris, London
Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Anaheim, Tampa, New York City, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Maui, San Diego