Economy Watch: Thanksgiving Travel to Hit Highest Volume Since ’05

AAA is predicting the busiest Thanksgiving travel season in more than a decade, which is good news for hotels, restaurants and gas stations.

traffic-jam-1703575_1920Good news for hotels and restaurants: AAA is predicting the busiest Thanksgiving travel season in years. The organization projects that about 50.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. AAA defines the season as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

Thus the 2017 Thanksgiving 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—especially the roads. Some 89 percent of all travelers – or 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent compared with 2016.

It will cost more to do so. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014. This November’s national average price is $2.54 per gallon, which is 37 cents more than last November. The cost for travelers staying in hotels, rather than with relatives or Airbnb, will also be up.

By contrast, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers who fly will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that’s a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.