More than 53.4 million people expect to travel this Thanksgiving, according to AAA


DEARBORN, Mich. (WLNS)—Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means more people are expected to travel.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts this Thanksgiving nearly 53.4 million people are expected to travel, the highest single-year increase ever since 2005.

“It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Now that U.S. borders are open, vaccinations are readily available, and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holidays.”

AAA highly recommends roadside safety and preparations for an overcrowded airport compared to last year’s holiday. The report predicts road travel will increase to nearly eight percent, and air travel is up 80 percent from last year.

NATIONAL Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers
(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2021 (Forecast)53.4M48.3M4.2M1M
2020 (Actual)47.1M44.5M2.3M281,000
2019 (Actual)56M49.9M4.6M1.5M
Change (2019 to 2021)−5%−3%−9%−31%
Change (2020 to 2021)+13%+8%+80%+264%
MICHIGAN Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers
(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2021 (Forecast)1.6M1.4M147,36831,853
2020 (Actual)1.4M1.3M80,4818,723
Change (2019 to 2021)-8%-7%-5%-31%
Change (2020 to 2021)+14%+8%+83%+265%

“The re-opening of the U.S. borders to international travelers means airports will be even busier than we’ve recently seen, so travelers must plan for long lines and extra time for TSA checks,” Haas continued. “With flight delays and cancellations becoming a problem recently, air travelers are encouraged to consider travel insurance. If your flight is canceled, there are various policies that would help offset unexpected expenses like a hotel, transportation, and food. You may also receive compensation for lost luggage, or if your flight is delayed for as little as 3 hours.”

Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA

According to AAA, gas prices will continue to remain high throughout the holiday season. The average price for gas in Michigan was $3.43 per gallon this week. The average price for a gallon of gas during the holidays during 2019 was $2.48 per gallon.

View daily gas price averages at

INRIX collaborated with AAA and predicts drivers will experience the worst traffic heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips and this year will be no different even during the pandemic,” says Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Drivers around major metros must be prepared for significant delays, especially Wednesday afternoon. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel
Metro AreaCorridorPeak Congestion% Over Normal
AtlantaI-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK DrWednesday, 1:30 – 3:30PM340%
ChicagoI-290 W, Morgan St to Wolfe RdWednesday, 2:45 – 4:45PM329%
DetroitI-96 W, 6 Mile Rd to Walled LakeWednesday, 2:00 – 4:00PM211%
Los AngelesI-5 S, Colorado St to Florence AveWednesday, 3:45 – 5:45PM385%
New YorkI-495 E, Borden Ave to Little Neck PkwyWednesday, 2:30 – 4:30PM482%
Washington DCI-95 S, I-395 to VA-123Wednesday, 2:00 – 4:00PM230%
Source: INRIX

“After such an unusual holiday travel year in 2020, it appears that higher gas prices will not be enough to deter Michigan residents from returning to the road for the holidays,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Unfortunately, it appears these high gas prices will hang around through the holidays. So it’s likely that travelers will budget more for gasoline and less on things like shopping, lodging, and dining out.”

If you would like to review the entire report click here.

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