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Thanksgiving Travel Ticks Up; Just Shy of Pre-Pandemic Levels

AAA Expects Nearly 55 Million Americans to Travel during Holiday Weekend

FARGO, ND. (November 15, 2022) – AAA predicts 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, That's a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes.

Within the West North Central region, which includes Minnesota, North and South Dakota, along with four other states, one in every five people (19.8%) is expected to travel. That is the highest share of any of the nine census regions.

Total Travel

Auto Travel

Air Travel

Other Modes

2022 Forecast

54.6 Million

48.7 Million

4.51 Million

1.43 Million

2021 Figures

53.8 Million

48.5 Million

4.18 Million

1.16 Million

2019 Figures

56 Million

49.9 Million

4.58 Million

1.49 Million

Growth (2021-2022)





Growth (2019-2022)





"Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic," said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays.

"Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year," added Haas. "AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans."


Despite higher gas prices, 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers will drive. AAA forecasts more than 48.6 million Americans will set out for a holiday road trip. That's 203,000 more drivers than last year.

When pulling up to the pump, motorists will find the highest gas prices ever for the holiday. In North Dakota, the highest daily average price for Thanksgiving was set back in 2012, at $3.40 per gallon. Today, drivers are paying an average price of $3.64 per gallon. That's 45 cents more than what North Dakota drivers paid last Thanksgiving ($3.19).

"Higher gas prices aren't enough to stop most people from traveling to be with family and friends," said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "When gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by cutting expenses in other areas, such as lodging, shopping or dining out."

Travelers can use the free AAA mobile app to compare gas prices, find certified repair shops, and member discounts in your area while traveling.

Stranded Motorists

More than 411,000 drivers will need AAA roadside assistance during the holiday weekend. The most common reasons are for dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA encourages drivers to get a full vehicle inspection before they hit the road to check everything from the tires, oil, air filter and wiper blades. AAA has a list of certified mechanics at AAA.com/AutoRepair.

With more people sharing the roads, the danger is multiplied for those on the roadside. AAA reminds motorists to slow down and move over for first responders and tow trucks. We also ask that you extend the same courtesy to people with disabled vehicles.

"We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers and first responders make it home safely this Thanksgiving," said LaDoucer. "Please be courteous and move over for flashing lights, whether it's a tow truck or a disabled vehicle with its hazard lights on."

Click here to learn more about The Auto Club Group's 'Move Over for Me' campaign

Air Travel Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels

In addition to congestion on the roads, Thanksgiving travelers are likely to find long lines at airports. Nationwide, air travel is up nearly 8% from last year, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That's an increase of more than 330,000 air passengers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume.

It's not uncommon for flight delays and even cancellations this time of year, due to winter weather, staffing challenges, and strong demand.

Air Travel Tips:

  • Check-in early online.
  • Monitor your flight status using your air carrier's mobile app.
  • Arrive 2-3 hours before scheduled departure.
  • Pack medications and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Travel Prices:

Airfares is 22% more than last year

  • The lowest round trip airfare costs $166 vs $135 in 2021
  • Hotels cost 17% more than 2021
    • A mid-range AAA Three Diamond property costs $218 per night vs $187 last year
  • Car Rentals cost 7% less
    • The average daily rate is $90 vs $98 last year

Holiday Travel Period

For purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. The Wednesday to Sunday period is consistent with previous years.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.