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Travel Expected To Increase For Thanksgiving Holiday

AAA forecasts a strong rebound in holiday travelers this Thanksgiving. The Auto Club Group predicts 53.4 million Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels for the 2019 holiday.

The gap is closing even faster in North Carolina, as total travel figures are only 2% below pre-pandemic levels. AAA predicts nearly 1.5 million North Carolinians will travel for Thanksgiving, a 13% rebound from the total number of travelers during the 2020 holiday.

With 6.4 million more Americans traveling this Thanksgiving (178,000 more North Carolinians), people should prepare for the roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded than last year’s holiday. AAA predicts road travel to increase 8%. Yet the most notable improvement this year’s holiday is domestic air travel, which has almost completely recovered from its dramatic drop-off during the pandemic and is up 80% from last year.

This year’s forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gasoline costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year, 90% of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of transportation. Although the car is still the most popular choice for travelers, a greater share will opt to travel by air and other modes such as bus, train or cruise this year. Whether you plan to do so by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges on the way to your Thanksgiving destination.

Gas prices surged in October and are likely to remain elevated through the holiday season. The average price for gasoline in North Carolina was $3.24 per gallon on Monday, November 8th. Thanksgiving gas prices haven’t been that high since 2013. The state average was $1.94 per gallon during last year’s holiday, and $2.41 on Thanksgiving Day in 2019.

[News release from AAA Carolinas]