Holiday travel up 80 percent over last year during COVID
According to AAA forecasting, a strong rebound in holiday travel is expected this 20201 Thanksgiving season.
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 Florida, as total travel figures are only 2% below pre-pandemic levels. AAA predicts nearly 2.9 million Floridians will travel for Thanksgiving, a 13% rebound from the total number of travelers during the 2020 holiday.
"It's beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year," said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Now that U.S. borders are open, vaccinations are readily available, and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holidays."
Busier Roads and Airports
With 6.4 million more Americans traveling this Thanksgiving (321,000 more Floridians), 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.
"The re-opening of the U.S. borders to international travelers means airports will be even busier than we've recently seen, so travelers must plan for longer lines and extra time for TSA checks," Haas continued. "With flight delays and cancellations becoming a problem recently, air travelers are encouraged to consider travel insurance. If your flight is cancelled, there are various policies that would help offset unexpected expenses like a hotel, transportation and food. You may also receive compensation for lost luggage, or if your flight is delayed for as little as 3 hours."
AAA Thanksgiving Travel Pricing FAQs
Air - Even with air travel seeing a boost this year, AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last year coming in at $132. Tuesday and Wednesday are still the most expensive and heaviest travel days, while Monday and Thursday are generally the lightest and least expensive. Those wanting to book last minute travel will find the best fares about two weeks before Thanksgiving, but keep in mind availability may be limited.
Hotels - Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 39%, with average nightly rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA Approved Hotels.
Car Rentals - Daily car rental rates have increased 4% compared to last Thanksgiving at $98. Over the summer, consumers experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets due to the semi-conductor chip shortage impacting automakers. As the number of travelers continues to grow, it's important to reserve rental cars as early as possible.
Gas Prices - Gas prices surged in October and are likely to remain elevated through the holiday season. The average price for gasoline in Florida was $3.28 per gallon on Monday, November 8th. Thanksgiving gas prices haven't been that high since 2013. The state average was $2.03 per gallon during last year's holiday (November 26), and $2.44 on Thanksgiving Day in 2019 (November 28).