If you’re leaving town for the Thanksgiving holiday, you may want to depart earlier than usual.
AAA predicts travel times in the most congested cities during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip. This year 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. The automobile club estimates that 50.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
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. On Wednesday from 3 to 5:15 p.m., drivers in Atlanta could see a delay of two times 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,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “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.”
While AAA expects most drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, 89.3 percent of holiday travelers are still planning to hit the road.
This month’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November.