AAA projects 55.4 million Americans (16.5% of the population) will travel 50 miles or more from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 2.3% from 2022. This year is expected to be the third-busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000, only behind 2005 and 2019. About 785,000 Oregonians will head over the river and through the woods for turkey and all the trimmings. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 22 through Sunday, November 26.
Most Thanksgiving travelers – nearly 89% – will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations. Air travel is seeing a 6.6% increase compared to last year. Americans are also heading to their Thanksgiving destination by other modes of travel including bus, train or cruise ship. These modes are up 11% over 2022. Find all the details below.
“More than most other holidays, Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones, and Americans are eager to carve out time to see family and friends and enjoy the big feast,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “The long holiday weekend is shaping up to be one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades. Roads and airports will be stuffed so expect lots of company whether you’re driving, flying or cruising.”
“Demand for travel has been strong all year, and this Thanksgiving will see more travelers take to the roads, skies and seas compared to last year. With some planning and preparation, you can have an enjoyable trip. Weather is always the wild card so be prepared for the possibility of winter storms. Use your AAA membership to find discounts and rewards, work with a travel agent, and consider travel insurance as well as medical travel insurance to protect your investment,” says Doreen Loofburrow, senior vice president of travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho.
Most will travel by car
AAA projects 88.7% of travelers (49.1 million Americans) will drive to their Thanksgiving destination. This is a 1.7% increase over 2022.
In Oregon, roughly 671,000 travelers will drive.
While automobile travel will increase this year, it will remain lower than 2019 when 49.9 million Americans drove.
Air travel sees boost; Air fares cost more for U.S. travel and less for international flights
Thanksgiving air travel will increase by 6.6% this year, soaring to 4.7 million travelers flying over the holiday weekend. This is the highest number of air travelers since 2005. In all, about 8.5% of Thanksgiving travelers will fly to their holiday destinations.
Approximately 97,000 Oregonians will travel by air.
It costs more to fly in the U.S. and less to fly internationally this Thanksgiving. AAA finds that the average price for a domestic flight is $681, up 5% from 2022. The average price for an international flight is $1,231, down 5.7% from last year.
Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. While Sunday is typically the busiest day to return home, AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving.
Those wanting to book last-minute travel and who are flexible with travel plans may find the best fares now (about seven to 14 days before Thanksgiving), but availability will be limited. Travelers who want to be at their destination on a certain date are best to book flights well in advance.
Those who fly should expect full flights. Any weather or mechanical issues can make it difficult for airlines to catch up as there are fewer options to book travelers on alternate flights.
Advice for Air Travelers
- Book the first flight of the day or early morning flights if you can. They are less likely to be cancelled or delayed.
- Try not to book tight connecting flights – you’ll want enough time to change flights in case your originating flight is late.
- If possible, avoid airports for connecting flights where winter weather can lead to delays, including Chicago O’Hare, Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Denver, and JFK.
- If you really need to be at your destination on a certain day, book flights a day or two early so that you have a buffer.
- FlightAware and other sites let you track your incoming flight so you can find other options if that flight is late or cancelled.
- Get to the airport early – two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. The increase in travelers can make for longer than usual wait times to get through security.
- If you need to park at the airport, book a parking spot in advance or at least check on availability before you go. Better yet, take transit, use a ride sharing service, or get a ride from a friend to the airport.
- Make sure your bags have name tags, and also put your name and contact info inside each bag.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and snacks. Many airlines allow you to pre-order food up to 24 hours before your flight. The TSA allows solid foods through screening but liquids or gels (such as yogurt) must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule.
- Consider signing up for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and/or CLEAR to expedite the security screening process. Do make sure the airports you use offer CLEAR as it’s not available at all airports.
- Travel by bus, train and cruise also rises
Travel by other modes, including buses, trains, and cruises, will climb to 1.55 million, an increase of nearly 11% from 2022. Roughly 21,000 Oregonians will travel by these modes this year.
“Cruising is very popular this year with most Thanksgiving cruises sold out. Cruising took a major hit during the pandemic, but has made a strong comeback. Cruising is an appealing way to travel because it’s family friendly, there’s something for all ages, there’s a wide variety of ships and amenities, and you get to visit multiple destinations but only have to unpack once,” says Loofburrow.
- Gas Prices lower than last year
Last year, drivers paid the most expensive gas prices ever for a Thanksgiving holiday. This year, drivers are enjoying savings at the pump.