By Hannah Pugh

The holidays are some of the busiest times of the year for U.S. travel. This year, Thanksgiving travel reached an all-time high. CNN reports “A record 31.6 million passengers will travel on US airlines during the Thanksgiving holiday period… According to a forecast by Airlines For America, a U.S. airline trade organization, that’s up 3.7 percent from last year.”

However, air travel isn’t the only increase this year. CNN reports: “Some 49.3 million travelers will be traveling by car to join family and friends — the most since 2005, AAA says. The drivers are among the more than 55 million travelers that AAA estimates are planning a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving.”

CNBC reports: “There will be little chance of escaping the crowds on the road, at the airport and even on the rails this Thanksgiving.” On Wednesday, traffic jams created delays causing drivers to spend nearly four times their expected travel time on the road. AAA expects to answer roadside assistance calls for nearly 368,000 motorists this Thanksgiving season, and dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons for the calls.

What Caused The Increase in Thanksgiving Travel This Year

Why is there a sudden increase in travel this year? AAA explains: “Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth. And travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”

Motor and leisure travel company AAA analyzes the increase in Travel.

  1. Slowing but still strong growth in gross domestic product of 2.1 percent year over year during fourth-quarter 2019.
  2. An unemployment rate that dipped to 3.5 percent in September, the lowest level in 50 years.
  3. High levels of consumer spending supported by rising wages, disposable income and household wealth.
  4. Positive consumer and corporate outlook measures, despite a dip earlier this year in consumer confidence.
  5. Gasoline prices that are averaging 7 percent lower for the month of October than a year ago. AAA expects the national retail average on Thanksgiving to be similar to last year, or about $2.57 per gallon.

According to Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, this Christmas, avoid travel on December 20th. It will be the busiest day to travel.

Next holiday season, travel on the Monday before Thanksgiving, or consider traveling on Thanksgiving day, for the lowest ticket prices of the week.