Nov 17, 2022 - Economy

Thanksgiving travel to hit near pre-pandemic levels, AAA predicts

Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at LAX.

People embrace at the airport the Sunday after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest days of the year at LAX. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Close to 55 million Americans will travel during Thanksgiving weekend, just shy of pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA.

Why it matters: For the second year in a row, Thanksgiving travel resembles the pre-pandemic world, showing Americans are eager once again to hit the road for their holiday hijinks.

Driving the news: AAA predicts 54.6 million people will venture 50 miles or more from their homes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which is a 1.5% increase over 2021.

  • The holiday weekend includes the time from Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
  • This will be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel season since AAA started tracking numbers in 2000, AAA predicted.
  • 2005 and 2019 have been the busiest years for Thanksgiving travel, according to AAA.

What they're saying: “Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a news release.

  • “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Zoom in: Most travelers (about 49 million) are expected to drive to their holiday hosts. Thanksgiving road trips are up 0.4% from last year but are still 2.5% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the AAA.

  • Air travel, meanwhile, is up 8% from last year and close to where it was in 2019.
  • Bus, trains and cruise ships are other modes of transportation seeing an increase this year, too.

Food for thought: The Transportation Security Administration is urging Americans to think ahead to how they plan to handle their food and fowl on flights.

Go deeper