Over 55 Million Americans Expected to Travel for Thanksgiving

Car travel is up 1.7% this year, with 49.1 million people predicted to drive to their destination.

November 13, 2023

This Thanksgiving, 55.4 million travelers will travel 50 miles or more from home, according to AAA. This year’s forecast for total travelers is an increase of 2.3% over last year and marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

“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.”

According to the forecast, the large majority of travelers are expected to drive to their destinations this Thanksgiving. AAA projects 49.1 million Americans will get behind the wheel, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022. 

Meanwhile, 4.7 million people are expected to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of 6.6% compared to 2022 and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005. The number of people traveling on a cruise, bus and train over Thanksgiving is up nearly 11% over last year. AAA expects 1.55 million travelers will head out of town using these modes of transportation.

INRIX, an intelligent mobility solutions company founded in 2004, expects Wednesday, November 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday. In some metro areas, average travel times may be as high as 80% above normal. To avoid the most congested times, INRIX recommends traveling in the morning or after 6 p.m.

“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.”