Stats: 55.4 Million Americans Expected to Travel for Thanksgiving

AAA projects 55.4 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period (November 22–26). This year’s Thanksgiving forecast is an increase of 2.3 percent over last year and marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000. The top two years were 2005 and 2019, respectively.

Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations. AAA projects 49.1 million Americans will get behind the wheel, an increase of 1.7 percent compared to 2022. AAA additionally expects 4.7 million people to fly over Thanksgiving, an increase of 6.6 percent compared to 2022 and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005. Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. While Sunday is typically the busiest day to return home, AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving.

In addition, the number of people traveling by cruise, bus and train over Thanksgiving is up nearly 11 percent over last year. AAA expects 1.55 million travelers will head out of town using these other modes of transportation, which took a huge hit during the pandemic but have rebounded nicely.

AAA Travel

Holiday Booking Prices

This holiday season, travelers are generally paying less for domestic trips compared to last year and more for international vacations. The one exception is airfare, which is slightly more expensive for domestic flights this season and a bit lower for international flights. Here’s a breakdown of average booking prices for November and December, according to AAA data:

  • Flights:
    • The average price for a domestic flight is $681, up 5 percent from 2022
    • The average price for an international flight is $1,231, down 5.7 percent from last year
  • Hotels:
    • The average price for a domestic hotel stay is $598, down 12 percent from 2022
    • The average price for an international hotel stay is $772, up 5 percent from last year
  • Rental cars:
    • The average price for a domestic rental car reservation is $590, down 20 percent from 2022
    • The average price for an international rental car reservation is $696, up 9 percent from last year
  • Cruises:
    • The average price for a domestic cruise is $1,507, down 12 percent compared to 2022
    • The average price for an international cruise is $2,902, up 24 percent from last year
  • Tours:
    • The average price for a domestic tour is $1,058, down 15 percent compared to 2022
    • The average price for an international tour is $1,208, up 21 percent from last year

Top Holiday Destinations

Warm weather destinations, theme parks, tourist attractions, historic sites and cruise port cities top the list of domestic and international destinations this holiday season.

Domestic International
1. Orlando, FL 1. Cancun, Mexico
2. Fort Lauderdale, FL 2. Mexico City, Mexico
3. Miami, FL 3. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
4. Anaheim, CA 4. Bahrain
5. Tampa, FL 5. Rome, Italy
6. New York City, NY 6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
7. Las Vegas, NV 7. Nassau, Bahamas
8. Honolulu, HI 8. Bali & Papua New Guinea
9. Maui, HI 9. Paris, France
10. San Diego, CA 10. London, England

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 9, 2023.

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