55 million expected to travel this Thanksgiving

November 18, 2019–7:54 a.m.


More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.6 million people will travel compared with last year, a 2.9% increase. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.

“Millions of Americans will seek memorable experiences as they travel for Thanksgiving,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This year’s holiday will be busier thanks to a strong economy, higher wages, and increasing disposable income.”

By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast

Total numbers of travelers:

  • National: 55,277 million travelers
  • Georgia: 1,626,369 travelers

Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday.

  • National: 49,346 million; 2.8% more than last year.
  • Georgia: 1,476,319; 3.1% increase over last year.


  • National: 4,446 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record since 2005; 4.6% more than last year.
  • Georgia: 119,849 Georgians will travel by air, a 4.4% increase over last year.

Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:

  • National: 1.4% increase to 1,486 million passengers
  • Georgia: 1.0% increase to 30,200 passenger

Lower gas prices fuel road trips; AAA to rescue more than 368,000

Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.

Meanwhile, more than 368,000 motorists will call AAA for assistance at the roadside this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Also, remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.

Travel tip for the friendly skies: Fly Monday before Thanksgiving

recent analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that flying the Monday before the Thanksgiving travel rush is the best option for travelers. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday and is a lighter travel day than later in the week. Travelers can also save by traveling on Thanksgiving Day, which has the week’s lowest average price per ticket ($454).

Real ID

Beginning October 1, 2020, a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, ID card, passport or an acceptable alternative ID approved by the TSA will be required to board a domestic commercial flight. AAA urges travelers to apply now for a REAL ID compliant driver’s license in preparation for the October 2020 Deadline. To apply for a REAL ID, Tennesseans will need visit a participating Georgia Department of Driver Services- Real ID and bring supporting documentation including: one proof of citizenship or legal presence, one proof of full Social Security Number, and two proofs of Georgia residency along with documentation to support any name change from your proof of citizenship document. A full list of accepted documents can be found here.

Car rental costs peak, hotel prices mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget more for a rental car this year, which have reached their highest prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday (since 1999), at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 5% to an average nightly cost of $158.

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Thanksgiving, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice. Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica are AAA’s top international destinations this Thanksgiving, with Munich, Germany rounding out the top five.

AAA’s travel experts remind travelers that it’s not too late to begin planning a Thanksgiving getaway. Visit AAA.com/Travel for travel planning resources to book your trip today.

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