ORLANDO, Fla.–AAA projects 50.9 million people in the United States 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 highest Thanksgiving travel volume 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 a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”
During the defined travel period of Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26., about 45.5 million people (89 percent of all travelers this Thanksgiving holiday) plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year. Driving remains popular despite the fact that gas is expected to reach the highest Thanksgiving prices since 2014. Meanwhile, the average airfare cost is the cheapest it has been since 2013 and, as a result, the largest growth in holiday travel is by air, with 3.95 million travelers taking to the skies. Travel by trains and other mode like buses and cruises is expected to increase 1.1 percent.
Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased five percent with an average nightly cost of $117.
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., 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 spots.
Below are the top 10 Thanksgiving destinations for 2017.
1. Orlando, Florida
2. Anaheim, California
3. New York City, New York
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
7. Cancun, Mexico
8. San Francisco, California
9. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida