Thanksgiving Travel Numbers Continues to Rise

While most will drive, a record number of Ohioans plan to fly this holiday.

PRESS RELEASE – AAA predicts 54.6 million Americans (more than 2.2 million Ohioans) will travel at least 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving (Nov. 23-27). That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 (1.1% in Ohio) and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes (96% in Ohio).

Continued higher costs of living and gas prices, coupled with concerns about inflation, are slowing travel volumes from exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Yet, this year’s national travel projections are more than 10% higher than the 10-year average of 2012-2021 and the third highest on record (4th highest in Ohio).

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” says Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of Travel. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Holiday Road Trips Remain Dominant:

About 89% of Americans (87% of Ohioans) will drive to their destination this Thanksgiving. The nearly 49 million Americans (more than 1.9 million Ohioans) that are planning holiday road trips is slightly more (0.4%) than last year. In Ohio, slightly (0.3%) fewer people will drive this Thanksgiving, as some travelers shift back to air travel and other modes of transportation.

During the pandemic, people were more comfortable with traveling by car, resulting in a shift in share of trips. As conditions continue to improve, the share of travel by car is starting to move back toward pre-pandemic levels.

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, warns motorists to expect congestion during peak travel times. The busiest times to travel by car include:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 23: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 24: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 25: 4-8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 26: 4-8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 27: 4-8 p.m.

“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.”

Ensuring vehicles are road-trip-ready can also help alleviate stress associated with a vehicle breakdown. AAA expects to respond to more than 400,000 calls for emergency roadside assistance over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Before hitting the road, drivers should get a vehicle inspection to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels.                                     

Record Number of Ohioans Will Fly This  Holiday:

Airports will be busy this Thanksgiving with a record 216,000 Ohioans planning to fly. That’s up 9.1% from last Thanksgiving and exceeds pre-pandemic levels by nearly 15,000 travelers.

Nationally, more than 4.5 million Americans will fly. That’s up 8% from 2021 and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. The national air travel projections are also 22% higher than the 10-year pre-pandemic average.

“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.”

Other Modes of Transportation Growing:

Travelers are also turning to other modes of transportation this holiday. More than 1.4 million Americans (more than 60,000 Ohioans) are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23% from 2021 both nationally and in Ohio.

“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,” Twidale adds. “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.

Holiday Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’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 S&P Global Market Intelligence 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 S&P Global Market Intelligence 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.

About AAA

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 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com   

About S&P Global Market Intelligence

At S&P Global Market Intelligence, we understand the importance of accurate, deep and insightful information. Our team of experts delivers unrivaled insights and leading data and technology solutions, partnering with customers to expand their perspective, operate with confidence, and make decisions with conviction.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI). S&P Global is the world’s foremost provider of credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help many of the world’s leading organizations navigate the economic landscape so they can plan for tomorrow, today. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence.

About DKSA

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually, and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company.

About INRIX 

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Schwind, kschwind@aaaohio.com

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