AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005), with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
“A strong economy and labor market are generating higher wages and more disposable income,” said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “As a result, more travelers will celebrate the holiday with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.
By the Numbers
- Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 48.5 million – will hit the road this Thanksgiving, nearly 5 percent more than last year.
- Planes: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air, at 5.4 percent, with 4.27 million travelers.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 1.4 percent, with a total 1.48 million passengers.
As the holiday approaches, consumers are welcoming falling gas prices. The national average for regular gasoline is currently $2.73, 18 cents lower than one month ago. The North Dakota average is down 13 cents from last month and currently sits at $2.76. While the holiday average will be the highest since 2014, motorists will likely see additional savings as the holiday approaches on lower oil prices and a buildup in gasoline inventory levels.
Aside from visiting family and friends, many travelers will seek iconic American cities, theme parks and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Orlando, New York City and Anaheim top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA’s online and travel agency air and tour bookings. Punta Cana, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami are all gaining popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.
- Orlando, Florida
- New York, New York
- Anaheim, California
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Cancun, Mexico
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Washington, DC
- Miami, Florida
AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists at the roadside this Thanksgiving. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.