An Estimated 55.4 Million People in the U.S. Are Planning on Traveling for Thanksgiving

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many people are preparing to embark on a journey to visit friends and family. This is a period of travel that many look forward to each year.

AAA estimates that an estimated 55.4 million individuals will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home during the Thanksgiving period. This year’s holiday travel projection is a 2.3% raise from the year before, and is the third-highest since 2000 when AAA started tracking these statistics. The two years which had the highest numbers were 2005 and 2019.

This Thanksgiving, AAA Travel’s Senior Vice President, Paula Twidale, predicted an increased number of people taking to the roads, skies, and seas when compared to the year prior. She commented that travel demand has been stable throughout the year and that her forecast is based on the desire of people to spend time with family.

Travel Forecast provided by AAA

AAA anticipates that 1.7% more Americans will drive for Thanksgiving this year compared to 2022, with 49.1 million individuals setting off on the road. Gas prices may be lower than last year, when the national average was $3.58, as they hit a peak of $3.87 in August but have been steadily decreasing since, in spite of the turbulence in the oil industry.

This Thanksgiving, AAA estimates that 4.7 million people will take to the skies, a 6.6% increase from the previous year and the highest recorded number since 2005. The two days preceding the holiday will be the most crowded and costly, while Sunday is traditionally the most prominent day for travelers heading home. Nevertheless, the data from AAA reveals that Monday is also a popular option for those flying back after the holiday.

AAA has reported that the amount of individuals choosing to travel via cruise, bus, or train for Thanksgiving is up 11% compared to last year. It is predicted that 1.55 million travelers will be on the move with these forms of transport, which had been detrimentally affected due to the pandemic but have made a remarkable comeback. “Cruises, in particular, have been booked solid for the holiday season with numerous voyagers planning to spend the occasion at sea.” remarked Twidale.

When it’s Optimal/Least Optimal to Drive and Metro Areas with the Highest Congestion

According to INRIX, a company that specializes in offering knowledge about transportation, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the most congested day on the roads. Congestion during this period is predicted to be as much as 80% longer than usual in some cities. They suggest leaving on a trip either before the morning or after 6 p.m. to try and avoid the heaviest traffic.

Bob Pishue from INRIX, a transportation analyst, warned that the day prior to Thanksgiving is usually a day with the most traffic on our highways. He suggested that travelers should be ready for major traffic jams, particularly in and near large cities. He further proposed that drivers should make use of traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services to stay informed of the current traffic situation in order to minimize any holiday frustrations.

When is the Best and Worst Time to Drive?

The best and worst times to drive vary depending on external factors. Traffic patterns, weather, holidays, and other events can all play a part in determining the optimal time to hit the road. Generally, traffic is lighter in the early morning or later in the evening, but rush hour can still be a factor. Similarly, weather can be a key factor in determining the best time to drive, as rain, snow, or icy conditions can all slow traffic down. Holidays and special events may also cause congestion, so it is best to plan ahead and avoid driving during these types of events.

Costs for Booking a Vacation

According to AAA data, the average booking prices for November and December of this holiday season have gone down for domestic trips in comparison to last year’s prices. On the other hand, international trips have become slightly more expensive. With regards to airfare, domestic flights are slightly pricier than international ones.


A viable option for getting from one place to another rapidly is to take a flight. Flying is an efficient way to traverse long distances in a relatively short amount of time.

Domestic flight prices have risen by 5% to an average of $681 since last year.

International flight costs, meanwhile, have dropped 5.7% to an average of $1,231.


Hotel accommodations are a popular choice for travelers. Hotels offer a range of services, and provide guests with a comfortable and convenient place to rest.

The cost of a domestic hotel room is on average $598, which is a decrease of 12% from the prior year.

International hotel stays have an average cost of $772, which is an increase of 5% from the year before.


Domestic rental car reservations have seen a decrease of 20% from the previous year, with an average cost of $590.

International rental car reservations are now costing an average of $696, which is an increase of 9% since 2022.


Cruises have become a popular way to take a vacation in recent years. People enjoy the convenience and comfort of sailing the seas, exploring new destinations, and being pampered with luxury amenities. Traveling by boat has become an increasingly well-liked form of holidaying. Seeing the world from the comfort of a cruise ship has become a preferred choice for many, allowing them to enjoy the pleasures of traveling while being treated to the utmost in luxury.

Domestic cruise prices have dropped by 12%, with an average cost of $1,507.

International cruises have gotten more expensive, with an average price of $2,902 – an increase of 24% since the previous year.

Popular Vacation Spots

From sun-drenched beaches to bustling cities, there are numerous holiday destinations to choose from. With so many choices, it can be hard to decide where to go. Here are some of the top picks for holiday destinations.

This holiday season, many people are looking to visit warm-weather locations, amusement parks, popular tourist spots, historical locations, and cities that are cruise port hubs both domestically and internationally: Orlando, Florida; Cancun, Mexico; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Mexico City, Mexico; Miami, FL; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Anaheim, CA; Bahrain; Tampa, FL; Rome, Italy; New York City, NY; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Las Vegas, NV; Nassau, Bahamas; Honolulu, HI; Bali & Papua New Guinea; Maui, HI; Paris, France; San Diego, CA; London, England – these are some of the most popular domestic and international travel destinations.