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AAA’s 2022 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

thanksgiving travel forecast

It’s turkey time. Are you planning on traveling for Thanksgiving? Whether you’re headed to family, friends or even a vacation destination, Thanksgiving travel is on the rise.

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, up 1.5% from 2021. This year is also projected to be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel season since AAA started tracking it in 2000, eclipsed only by 2005 and 2019, respectively. AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday travel period as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. 

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” said Mary Maguire, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Modes of Travel

Most travelers will be driving by car, so expect the roadways to be crowded with almost 49 million other travelers. Air travel and other modes of travel are also steadily increasing as we inch up to 98% of pre-pandemic levels. 4.5 million Americans plan to travel by air, even though airline schedules are still reduced by roughly 20%. You can expect fewer options and higher pricing than previous years, along with crowded terminals.

“Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed or you need to reschedule,” Maguire recommended.

1.43 million Americans plan to use other modes of travel, like buses, trains and even cruise ships. That’s an increase of over 23% compared to 2021.

“With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way,” Maguire added. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”

2022 Thanksgiving travel forecast

Traffic Predictions

INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas, with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. Highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” said Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the holiday weekend. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Peak Congestion Near You

MetroCorridorIncrease Over Typical TrafficPeak Congestion
BostonI-93 South; Albany St to MA-2453%Wed, 11/23/22 – 2:15-4:15 PM
New YorkI-278 South; I-495 to 6th Ave158%Wed, 11/23/22 – 2:45-4:45 PM
Washington DCI-495 Counterclockwise; I-95 to VA-12385%Sun, 11/27/22 – 11:15 AM-1:15 PM

Top Destinations

Americans are going all over the country this Thanksgiving, with theme park hot spots and bustling cities topping the charts. AAA has compiled a list of the top domestic destinations based on flight, hotel, and rental car bookings for Thanksgiving week. Orlando and Anaheim top the list again, as they did in 2021 and 2019, while two new additions round out the top 10 this year: Chicago and Charlotte.

“Since travel restrictions have lifted, we are seeing more of a shift from rural destinations back to urban cities, like New York,” Maguire said. “Consumer confidence has improved, and travelers want the excitement and accessibility of big cities, as well as more hotel options and greater inventory, which can sometimes mean better pricing.”

RankingDestinationAverage Hotel Booking*2022 Prices Compared to 2021
1Orlando, FL$616↓ 11%
2Anaheim, CA$643↑  5%
3Las Vegas, NV$319↓ 17%
4New York, NY$1,116↑ 25%
5Atlanta, GA$426↑  7%
6Phoenix, AZ$530↓  7%
7Dallas/Fort Worth, TX$406↑ 13%
8Denver, CO$407↓ 24%
9Chicago, IL$440↑ 17%
10Charlotte, NC$510↑ 66%
*AAA hotel data reflects average booking prices for entire stays during Thanksgiving week, which vary in length. These are not nightly rates.

Don’t forget to come back for seconds! Watch this space for even more info and updates about this Thanksgiving travel season as we get closer and closer to Turkey Day.

For help planning a vacation that meets your needs and comfort level this holiday season, connect with a AAA Travel Advisor. To get started, visit


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