turkey day

AAA’s 2023 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

It’s turkey time. Are you ready to fly? AAA projects 55.4 million travelers will journey 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday, defined as Nov. 22-26. The travel volume this year reflects an increase of 2.3% over last year and marks the third-highest Thanksgiving travel since AAA began tracking in 2000. The top two years were 2005 and 2019, respectively. 

“The travel rebound after the pandemic continues with more Americans taking a trip to see loved ones or new destinations,” said Mark Schieldrop, AAA Northeast senior spokesperson. “The most popular mode of travel for this and all holidays is the motor vehicle, with Americans set to benefit from lower gasoline prices compared to a year ago.”  

Book your flight with AAA.

Planes, Trains or Automobiles?

AAA projects 49.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022. Those travelers will see average pump prices more than 40 cents cheaper than last year. Oil prices have fallen for three straight weeks due to tepid global oil demand.

More will fly this year compared to last, despite domestic airfares that are 5% higher than last year. AAA expects 4.7 million people will fly, the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005, and an increase of 6.6% or nearly 300,000 compared to 2022. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days 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. 

The number of people taking a cruise, bus or train over Thanksgiving is up nearly 11% over last year. AAA expects 1.55 million travelers will use these other modes of transportation.

The Best (and Worst) Times to Drive

INRIX, a provider of transportation data, expects Wednesday, Nov. 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with average travel times as high as 80% over normal in some metro areas. INRIX recommends leaving in the early morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion. 

Thanksgiving Bookings

Following is a breakdown of average booking prices for November and December, according to AAA data. 

  • Domestic travel costs: The average domestic flight costs $681, up 5% from last year. Domestic hotel stays average $598, down 12%. Rental cars are 20% less than last year at $590 per reservation. Domestic cruise prices are down 12% to an average of $1,507. 
  • International travel costs: Average airfares come in at $1,231, down 5.7% from last year. Overseas hotel stays average $772, up 5%. Rental car reservations overseas come in at $696, up 9%. Overseas cruises average $2,902, up a whopping 24%. 

The top holiday destinations in the U.S. are Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, followed by Anaheim, Tampa, New York City, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Maui and San Diego. The top international destinations are Cancun, Mexico City and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. 

Are you traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday? Where to? Let us know in the comments below.

Book flights, rental cars, hotels and more with AAA Travel.

One Thought on “AAA’s 2023 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  1. Hello,
    I am wondering if AAA could make some sort of Public Service Announcement concerning putting on the headlights in the car when it is raining.
    At least, here in New York it is the Law. I notice that there are still many drivers of cars and also trucks that fail to do this.
    Also, maybe you can emphasize that although it may not aid them in seeing better in inclement weather (when it is usually darker outside), but it will certainly help other drivers to be able to see them. This is so very important. I am not sure if these drivers do not know the law or if they just do not give a damn.
    Thank you very much,
    Bobby S.

Leave A Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Subscribe to Your AAA Newsletter

Sign up and receive updates for all of the latest articles on automotive, travel, money, lifestyle and so much more!