AAA projects more than 1.7 million Michigan residents will journey 50 or more miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday. This represents the most travelers since 2007 and a nearly 5 percent increase over last year. This also marks the ninth consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel in the state as more people take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways. The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25.
Driving remains the most popular mode of transportation this holiday period, with more than 1.5 million behind the wheel. Air travel will also increase nearly, with more than 144,000 taking to the skies. Travel by other modes of transportation, including train, bus and cruise ship, will be on par with last year, with more than 45,000 statewide travelers. Click here to read the full report.
“A strong economy and falling gas prices will fuel significant growth in the number of Michiganians planning a trip for Thanksgiving,” said Nancy Cain, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With more travelers comes more congestion at airports and on the roads. AAA urges people to leave early, pack their patience and minimize distractions while behind the wheel.”
Drivers Beware: Thanksgiving’s Terrible Traffic
The majority of travelers – 48.5 million Americans – will drive to their holiday destinations. During the week of the holiday, motorists should expect congested roads from 3-7pm Monday-Wednesday, as travelers mix with afternoon commuters; and on Sunday, as holiday travelers return home. Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, says drivers could experience nearly quadruple the normal drive times in high traffic areas.
“Motorists hoping to avoid congestion should try not to travel through major cities during peak travel times,” Cain continued. “The best advice is to leave early. The roads are generally less crowded in the mornings and on the holiday itself.”
Gas Prices Trending Lower for Turkey Day
Although the state average price for gasoline declined 34 cents in the past 42 days, Michigan gas prices remain 11 cents higher than last Thanksgiving. The average price in Michigan was $2.57 per gallon during last year’s holiday. Today, the average Michigan motorist pays around $2.68. Click here to find the daily average price of gasoline.
“Motorists have been thankful to see gas prices move lower as we head into the holiday season,” Cain continued. “If oil prices remain low, prices at the pump could continue to fall, and motorists could find the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in two years.”
Best Times to Fly and Book Thanksgiving Flights
An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving are usually the most popular air travel days and have the highest average price per roundtrip ticket. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving Day consistently has the lowest average price per ticket and is the lightest travel day. Travelers looking to save money this holiday season can fly the morning of the holiday and arrive just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Most travelers booked their flights for Thanksgiving between September 23 and October 25, paying an average ticket price of $478 roundtrip. Procrastinating travelers who still need to book their flights may find cheaper airfares, paying an average ticket price of $459 between now and November 15. However, last-minute flight availability will likely be very limited.
Car Rental Costs Fall, Hotel Prices Mixed
Travelers can expect to save on car rentals this Thanksgiving holiday season. At $63, the average daily rate is 10 percent less than last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Travelers can also save on AAA Three Diamond hotels, with an average nightly rate of $166, a decline of six percent compared to last year. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has increased six percent with an average nightly cost of $124.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek iconic American cities, theme parks and other warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Orlando, New York City and Anaheim top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA’s online and travel agency air and tour bookings. Punta Cana, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami are all gaining popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.
- Orlando, Florida
- New York, New York
- Anaheim, California
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Cancun, Mexico
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Washington, D.C.
- Miami, Florida