(Media release from AAA – The Auto Club Group):
AAA projects 2 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period*. This year’s forecast is the second highest on record (2005), with an expected 35,000 (2%) more holiday travelers than last year.
“Travel demand has been strong all year and that trend will continue with one of the busiest Thanksgivings on record,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With more people taking to the roads, skies, rails, and sea; travelers should expect congested roads and longer lines at transportation terminals. AAA encourages travelers to develop their plan now, leave early, and be courteous to others.”
|Georgia Thanksgiving Travel Forecast|
|2023 (forecast)||2 million||1.51 million||115,001||28,108|
|2022||1.62 million||1.48 million||109,370||25,910|
|2021||1.63 million||1.49 million||106,840||21,844|
|2019||1.66 million||1.50 million||124,120||30,038|
Auto Travel is the Second Highest on Record (Georgia)
Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations. AAA predicts over 1.5 million Georgians will take a road trip of 50 miles or more. That’s nearly 27,000 more Georgia drivers (+1.8%) than last year. This year’s forecasted auto travel volume has 12,000 more holiday travelers than the record high set in the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Gas Prices Should Remain Lower Than Last Year
Thanksgiving road trips should be less costly at the gas pump this year. Despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market, strong domestic gasoline supplies are causing pump prices to drop. Last Thanksgiving, the national average price for gasoline was $3.58 per gallon, while the state average was $3.06. On Sunday (11/12), Georgia drivers paid an average price of $2.85. AAA believes gas prices should remain low through the holiday season unless oil prices suddenly spike. Visit GasPrices.AAA.com to view updated gas price averages.
Air Travel Approaches Pre-Pandemic Highs
AAA expects over 115,000 Georgians to fly for Thanksgiving. That’s nearly 6,000 (5%) more than in 2022.
Busiest Times to Fly
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.
Cruise, Bus, and Train Traffic Gains Ground
The number of Georgians traveling by cruise, bus, and train over Thanksgiving is up nearly 8% over last year. AAA expects 28,000 travelers to head out of town using these other modes of transportation, which suffered a severe setback during the pandemic, but have rebounded nicely.
“The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback, and thrives during the holidays,” Haas added. “Holiday cruises are highly sought-after as a means for large families to travel together and visit multiple destinations without having to worry about the cooking and cleanup. For those looking to plan a 2024 vacation, this is also a great time to connect with a Travel Advisor, who can navigate the many options available to find the best fit.”
Best/Worst Times to Drive
INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Wednesday, November 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with average travel times as high as 80% longer than normal in some metro areas. INRIX recommends leaving in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion.
“The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates.”
Please note – the times listed below are for the time zone the metro is located in. For example, Atlanta routes = ET and Los Angeles routes = PT.
|Overall Busiest Day to Drive|
|Date||Time||Compared to Typical|
|Wednesday, Nov 22||2:00 – 6:00 PM||11.44%|
|Best and Worst Times to Drive|
|Date||Worst Travel Time||Best Travel Time|
|Wednesday, Nov22||2:00 – 6:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM|
|Thursday, Nov 23||11:00 AM – 3:00 PM||Before 10:00 AM, After 5:00 PM|
|Friday, Nov 24||12:00 – 4:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM, After 7:00 PM|
|Saturday, Nov 25||3:00 – 5:00 PM||Before 12:00 PM|
|Sunday, Nov 26||3:00 – 5:00 PM||Before 12:00 PM|
|Peak Congestion by Metro|
|Metro||Route||Peak Congestion Period||Est. Travel Time||Compared to Typical|
|Atlanta||Birmingham to Atlanta via I-20 E||Friday, 5:00 PM||4 hours 2 minutes||54%|
Holiday Booking Prices
This holiday season, travelers are generally paying less for domestic trips compared to last year and more for international vacations. The one exception is airfare, which is slightly more expensive for domestic flights this season and a bit lower for international flights. Here’s a breakdown of average booking prices for November and December, according to AAA data:
- 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.
- The average price for a domestic hotel stay is $598, down 12% from 2022.
- The average price for an international hotel stay is $772, up 5% from last year.
- The average price for a domestic rental car reservation is $590, down 20% from 2022.
- The average price for an international rental car reservation is $696, up 9% from last year.
- The average price for a domestic cruise is $1,507, down 12% compared to 2022.
- The average price for an international cruise is $2,902, up 24% from last year.
- The average price for a domestic tour is $1,058, down 15% compared to 2022.
- The average price for an international tour is $1,208, up 21% from last year.
AAA’s Road Trip Tips
- Get a full vehicle inspection before setting out on your trip.
- Leave early and allow extra time to get to your destination, so you are not in a rush.
- Identify alternate routes in case you encounter congestion or road closures.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Program your GPS before your drive.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle wears their seatbelt.
- Never drive impaired.
AAA’s Air Travel Tips
- Check in early online.
- Monitor your flight status using your air carrier’s mobile app.
- Arrive 2-3 hours before scheduled departure.
- Pack medications and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or canceled.
Tips for Air Travelers who Have Not Booked their Flight Yet:
- Book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
- Book a direct flight. Otherwise, build in extra time between connections, in case your first flight is delayed.
- Consider traveling on Thanksgiving Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.
“It’s not too late to purchase travel insurance, which can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can provide compensation for flight delays for as little as three hours. And if a flight is canceled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.”
Top Holiday Destinations
Warm weather destinations, theme parks, tourist attractions, historic sites, and cruise port cities top the list of domestic and international destinations this holiday season.
|Orlando, FL||Cancun, Mexico|
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Miami, FL||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic|
|Tampa, FL||Rome, Italy|
|New York City, NY||Montego Bay, Jamaica|
|Las Vegas, NV||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Honolulu, HI||Bali, Papua New Guinea|
|Maui, HI||Paris, France|
|San Diego, CA||London, England|
AAA Reminds Drivers to ‘Move Over for Me’
With more people sharing the roads, the danger is multiplied for those on the roadside. AAA reminds motorists to slow down and move over for first responders, tow trucks, and any motorist with a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.
“We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers, and first responders make it home safely this Thanksgiving,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “All drivers can help by moving over for flashing lights, whether it’s a tow truck or a disabled vehicle with its hazard lights on. Even if it adds a few minutes to your commute, that small gesture could save a life.”
Holiday Forecast Methodology
In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.
Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior, all after the trips have been taken.
The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. AAA and SPGMI forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 9, 2023.
*Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Period
For the purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 22 to Sunday, November 26.