March 20, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

AAA expects Thanksgiving Travel to exceed pre-pandemic level

Omaha, Neb. — AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. Nearly 49 million people will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations, and 4.5 million will fly. More than 1.4 million travelers will go by bus, train, or cruise ship. Overall, this Thanksgiving is projected to be the third busiest since AAA started tracking holiday travel in 2000.

“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. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

89% of Holiday Travelers will Drive

Despite higher gas prices, 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers will drive. AAA forecasts 48.65 million Americans will set out for a holiday road trip. That’s 203,000 more drivers than last year.

Gas Price Impact on Holiday Travel

Pump prices are trending higher this year for the holiday compared to last. On Monday, drivers paid an average price of $3.51 per gallon. That’s $.30 cents more than what Nebraska drivers paid last year at this time. (Iowa as of 11/14/22 – 2022 $3.50, 2021 $3.17)

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said Brian Ortner, spokesperson for, AAA Nebraska. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by spending less on a hotel, 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.

Busiest Days to Travel

If you are hitting the road for the holidays, leave early. Travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion Monday-Wednesday afternoon and early evening. Traffic will be lighter during the morning and late evening hours and on Thanksgiving Day.

AAA Expects to Rescue 411,000 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 Reminds Drivers to ‘Move Over for Me’

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 any vehicle pulled to the side of the road.

“We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers and first responders make it home safely this Thanksgiving,” said Ortner. “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 the airport too. 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.

AAA offers the following tips for air travelers:

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.
Tips for Air Travelers who Have Not Booked their Flight Yet:

Book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
Book a direct flight. Otherwise, build in extra time between connections, in case your first flight is delayed.
Consider traveling on Thanksgiving Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.
“It’s not too late to purchase travel insurance, which can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can provide compensation for flight delays for as little as three hours. And if your flight is cancelled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.”

Travel Prices are Higher than Last Year

Airfares – 22% more than 2021
The lowest round trip airfare costs $166 vs $135 in 2021
Hotel – 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
Click here to view AAA’s Rental Car Dos and Don’ts

Most Popular Travel Destinations
Based on hotel bookings at

Orlando, FL
Anaheim, CA
Las Vegas, NV
New York, NY
Atlanta, GA
Phoenix, AZ
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Denver, CO
Chicago, IL
Charlotte, NC
Thanksgiving 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.

Source: Nebraska Regional News