The American Automobile Association is predicting a busy Thanksgiving season as more than 55 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from their home this year.
That marks a 2.3% increase from last year and the highest number since 2005 and 2019.
"For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022," said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. "Travel demand has been strong all year, and AAA's Thanksgiving forecast reflects that continued desire to get away and spend time with loved ones."
Most travelers will be driving, with 49.1 million Americans hitting the road, while 4.7 million are expected to fly. Airlines are bracing for a record number of travelers, with the busiest days being the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. While Sunday is usually the busiest and most expensive day to return home, AAA notes that a growing number of people are planning to fly home on the following Monday.
With all those people on the road, AAA said to expect heavy traffic, with travel times up to 80% higher than normal. INRIX recommends leaving early in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the worst of the traffic.
"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."