AAA projects big travel numbers ahead of Thanksgiving holiday – NBC Connecticut


AAA is expecting a huge Thanksgiving travel season that will kick off in a week’s time.

Nationwide, 55.4 million people are expected to travel, the overwhelming majority by car. Not great news for those who like to avoid holiday travel.

“I do not travel in that 4-day window of Thanksgiving,” Nassrine Niemi-Farhoody said.

We caught her on the drive from Massachusetts to Maryland. Even this early, hearing about the projected highs for holiday travel had her a little worried.

“I worry a little about how much traffic there is going to be because we are very close to Thanksgiving,” Niemi-Farhoody said.

AAA said projected numbers this year are a 2.3% jump from 2022, and the third-highest number of travelers since AAA started recording travel numbers back in 2000.

“It’s certainly signaling good things ahead, we have seen an increase in travel for all the major travel holidays throughout the course of 2023,” said Tracy Noble with AAA of Greater Hartford.

89% of those projected travelers are expected to be on the road, which is prompting a request from travel experts.

“If you are traveling, please make sure you are buckled up, kid’s in the right car seats, put down the distractions, drive completely sober,” Noble said, “and when you see disabled cars or trucks or emergency workers on the side of the road please respect them and their workspace and slow down and move over for them.”

AAA projects the worst day to attempt to drive is Wednesday – specifically Wednesday afternoon. But on the bright side, gas prices continue to slide since their peak back in August.

Nieme-Farhoody expects to only make a small drive on Thanksgiving. She said she’ll always avoid traveling on major holidays, but if she had to…

“I think that’s what I would do if I had to do it, I would take the week and just enjoy it,” she said.

Through the air, AAA projects over 5 million people are expected to travel. Bradley International Airport officials are sending out their message later this week, but still offered the typical messaging: arrive early and plan ahead.

The boom of travel also has experts excited about post-pandemic recovery.

“It’s a great sign, it just means people are ready to travel again,” said Jan Jones, program coordinator for hospitality and tourism management at the University of New Haven.

AAA is reporting both car rentals and hotel costs have come down since 2022.

“We are open for business, people are ready to get back out there and they miss their loved ones and a lot of those vacations that are international trips are back on board so we are going to see a big holiday season,” Jones said.

Her only warning – with big numbers, planning ahead has never been more important.

 “You really have to prepare ahead of time more than you ever have had to in the past,” Jones said.

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