AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving; a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
The 2017 holiday weekend will see the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of what will likely become the busiest holiday season in more than a decade,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence. These factors should help fuel consumer spending and generate a strong finish for the travel industry this year.”
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
89 percent of all travelers –45.5 million– are planning a Thanksgiving road trip; an increase of 1.6 million people (3.2%) over last year.
The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
The seven-state West North Central Region (North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota) will see the greatest share of its population traveling over the holiday.
Nearly 1 in every 5 people in the region will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday (19.5 percent). Nationally, 15.6 percent of the population is expected to travel.
AAA projects an additional 123,000 people from the region will travel this year versus the 2016 holiday, an increase of 3 percent.
More than 90 percent of travelers from the region will get to their destination by automobile while 5 percent will fly. The remaining will travel by other means, like trains, buses and cruises.
Higher Gas Prices
AAA forecasts drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, thanks to strong demand and higher oil prices.
Gas prices surged over the past month. Today’s average in North Dakota is 11 cents higher than one month ago and 38 cents higher than one year ago.
Regular gas in North Dakota is currently averaging $2.53. The national average is $2.56.
The statewide average was $2.08 on Thanksgiving Day 2016; $2.15 in 2015, and $2.92 in 2014.
Compared to last year’s holiday, it will cost the average motorist about $6 more for a full tank of gasoline.
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
About the Forecast
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.