AAA Projects Big Travel Numbers This Thanksgiving

By on November 19, 2018 in WNDB News

Daytona Beach, FL – Expect the highways and airports to be packed as we get closer to Turkey Day.

This year’s AAA forecast calls for the most Thanksgiving travelers in 13 years, with 54.3 million Americans going at least 50 miles or more away from home.

At least 2.8 million of those will be Floridians, according to AAA spokesperson Matt Nasworthy.

“A strong economy and falling gas prices will fuel significant growth in the number of Floridians planning a trip for Thanksgiving,” Nasworthy added. “With more travelers comes more congestion at airports and on the roads. AAA urges people to leave early, pack their patience and minimize distractions while behind the wheel.”

Of the over 54 million expected to travel between Wednesday (November 22nd) and Sunday (November 26th), the vast majority (48.5 million) will go by car, with most of the rest (4.3 million) hopping on a flight, per AAA projections. Should that number hold, it would be the most travelers nationwide for Thanksgiving since 2005 and a 4.8% increase over last year’s AAA numbers.

Nasworthy expects most of those commuters – especially the drivers – to move during the afternoon, especially the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. That, he says, could lead to drivers experiencing nearly quadruple the normal drive times in high traffic areas.

“Motorists hoping to avoid congestion should try not to travel through major cities during peak travel times,” Nasworthy continued. “The best advice is to leave early. The roads are generally less crowded in the mornings and on the holiday itself.”

Despite a month-long trend of falling gas prices, the statewide average for a gallon of regular ($2.50) is still three cents higher than last Thanksgiving ($2.47). The Daytona Beach area’s average matches the state, with a seven-cent drop in the past week. At the county level, Volusia sits at $2.49, while Flagler is at $2.57.

If you’re planning to fly the friendly skies, you might want to avoid the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. Nasworthy says those tend to be the most popular times to fly based on AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years, which also leads those dates to have the highest average price per round-trip ticket.

If you want to save some pennies, consider flying on Thanksgiving Day itself; AAA data shows it usually has the lowest average price per ticket and is the lightest travel day during that holiday.

Those who need a car will likely save some bucks compared to the year prior, with the average daily rate of $63 being 10% less than last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.

As is normal during the holiday, AAA expects Orlando (#1) and Miami (#10) to be among the top destinations for Americans during Thanksgiving.

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