Jenifer Moore
Public Affairs Specialist, OH
O: (513) 762-3105 ext. (5503105)
C: (513) 401-4911

Nearly 51 Million Americans to Travel This Thanksgiving, Highest Volume in a Dozen Years

CINCINNATI, Oh.—(November 16, 2017)—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 highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip. 

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
  • Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at five percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
  • Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
  • Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices

While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November (1st-14th).

Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road

More travelers on the road may equal more traffic in destination cities and motorists should be prepared.  Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week - as commuters mix with holiday travelers.  At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent over the optimal trip.

“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”


Worst Time to Travel

Destination Metro Area

Worst Day

for Travel

Worst Time

for Travel

Delay Multiplier

Chicago, IL


5:00 - 6:00 PM


San Francisco, CA


4:00 - 5:45 PM


Los Angeles, CA


3:15 - 6:00 PM


Boston, MA


5:15 - 7:15 PM


New York, NY


5:30 - 6:30 PM


Washington, DC


4:45 - 6:00 PM


Seattle, WA


3:45 - 5:30 PM


Atlanta, GA


3:00 - 5:15 PM


Houston, TX


5:45 - 7:00 PM


Detroit, MI


3:00 - 5:30 PM



Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
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 or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

AAA Tips for Road Travelers:

  • Get A Preventative Maintenance Check: Go to an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility or a trusted mechanic and have your vehicle battery, tires and fluids checked prior to hitting the road. AAA offers free preventative maintenance checks at all AAA Bob Sumerel Tire and Auto locations. You do not have to be a member.
  • Map Your Route: Travel projections in high areas can mean more time on the road and possibly in traffic. Download AAA’s mobile app or visit your local store for TripTiks to determine the best and safest route drive.
  • Fill Up: Temperatures may be colder in destination cities. Keep yourgas tankat least halffullto avoidgasline freeze-up. It is also important to have enough gas if you are stuck in traffic. Use AAA’s mobile app to find the cheapest gas prices in your departure and destination cities.
  • Have an Emergency Kit: Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices, fully charged cell phone, non-perishable snacks, bottled water and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle.
  • Safety First: Every passenger in the vehicle should be wearing a seatbelt or properly restrained in a car or booster seat, including pets. Never drive if you are feeling drowsy and be alert for impaired drivers.

About the AAA travel 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

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 clubs can be visited on the Internet at

About INRIX:

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.


AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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