Nearly 51 Million Americans To Travel This Thanksgiving
AAA FORECASTS HIGHEST THANKSGIVING GAS PRICES IN GEORGIA SINCE 2014
ATLANTA, Ga. (November 16, 2017) – AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving; a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of what will likely become the busiest holiday season in more than a decade,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence. These factors should help fuel consumer spending and generate a strong finish for the travel industry this year.”
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
- Total Travelers: 1.4 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more; an increase of 3.2% over last year.
- Road Trip Ready: 1.3 million will take a Thanksgiving road trip; an increase of 3.2% over last year.
- Flying High: 107,802 Georgians are forecast to take a flight; the most since 116,695 flew in 2007. The 4.5% year-over-year increase is the largest percentage increase among the three major transportation modes.
- Alternate travel: 30,947 Georgians will travel by other means like trains, buses, and cruises.
- Fueling up: Gas Prices in Georgia averaged $2.09 on Thanksgiving 2016. Prices this year are likely to be the highest since 2014.
- Road Trippers: 89 percent of all travelers –45.5 million– are planning a Thanksgiving road trip; an increase of 1.6 million people (3.2%) over last year.
- Cheaper Airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013. View the pricing index
- Fuller Skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
- Alternate Travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
- Fueling Up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
- Holiday High: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.
Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
- Gas prices surged earlier this month. The state average rose 6 cents in 5 days.
- Gas prices in Georgia are currently averaging $2.41. Check today’s state and metro averages
- The state average was $2.09 on Thanksgiving 2016, $1.99 in 2015, and $2.71 in 2014.
- Compared to last year’s holiday, it will cost the average motorist $6 more for a full tank of gasoline.
- Gas prices in the U.S. are averaging $2.56. Check today’s national average
- The national average on Thanksgiving Day was $2.14 in 2016, $2.05 in 2015, and $2.80 in 2014.
“AAA forecasts Georgians will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, thanks to strong demand and high oil prices,” said Garrett Townsend, Georgia Public Affairs Director, AAA- The Auto Club Group. “Although it will be more expensive to drive to Grandma’s house compared to recent years, the current price at the pump is not high enough to deter Georgians from taking a trip. Most people have already made their travel plans, and will not cancel them for moderate shifts in gas prices.”
“Oil prices reached 2-year highs last week, causing the sudden jump at the pump, ” Townsend continued. “Fortunately, oil prices are beginning to soften, thanks to growth in crude production and inventories; and wholesale gas prices are slipping due to high gasoline production. This should set the table for small discounts at the pump before the holiday arrives.”
Highs and Lows: Car rentals, airfare and hotel rates
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index:
- Travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.
- Travelers can expect to spend any ‘flight savings’ on car rentals. At $70/day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013.
- Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176/night. Conversely, the average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has decreased 5 percent with an average nightly cost of $117.
Georgians Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week – as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At the peak of congestion on Wednesday evening from 3 – 5:15 p.m., drivers on Atlanta interstates could experience delays of up to 2x the optimal trip time.
“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Garrett Townsend, Georgia Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
AAA advises Georgia motorist to plan trips in advance and tune in to local traffic reports before they hit the road this weekend. Up-to-date information on weather alerts, traffic congestion and major incidents can be found at www.511ga.org – Georgia Department of Transportation’s traffic management and traveler information system.
The 10 worst traffic hotspots during Thanksgiving week with the most congestion in Georgia are:
Top Ten Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday hot spots.
- Orlando, Florida
- Anaheim, California
- New York City, New York
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Cancun, Mexico
- San Francisco, California
- Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Cruise Ships Return to Key Caribbean Ports
Just in time for the holidays, cruise ships will return to three of the most popular Caribbean cruise ports affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Sailings to St. Thomas and San Juan are resuming this month, while St. Maarten is scheduled to re-open in December. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, 87 percent of the nearly 100 cruise ports in the Caribbean are open, including the one in Key West.
“This is great news for both the cruise passengers who love these destinations, and for the islands themselves which rely on tourism to support their local economies,” Evans continued. “Being on a cruise ship may not seem like a traditional way to spend the holidays, but is actually very popular when you consider that the entire family can travel together, without worrying about all the cooking and cleanup.”
Top 5 Busiest Airports for Car Rentals
According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.