MADISON, Wisc., (November 15, 2022) – AAA predicts 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. While overall national and local travel totals are less than 1% short of the pre-pandemic high in 2019, air travel from Wisconsin will exceed pre-pandemic levels and set of new record high this year.
|Wisconsin||Total Travel||Auto Travel||Air Travel||Other Modes|
“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.
In Wisconsin, 957,872 will take a road trip – an increase of 3,199 people from year’s holiday.
Gas Prices to Test Record Highs for the Holiday
On Monday, Wisconsin drivers paid an average price of $3.59 per gallon. That’s 48 cents more than last Thanksgiving ($3.11).
“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “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.”
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.
|Date||Worst travel time||Best travel time|
|11/23/22||11:00 AM – 8:00 PM||Before 8:00 AM, After 8:00 PM|
|11/24/22||11:00 AM – 3:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM, After 6:00 PM|
|11/25/22||4:00 PM – 8:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM|
|11/26/22||4:00 PM – 8:00 PM||Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
|11/27/22||4:00 PM – 8:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM|
In the local area, most construction projects have moved to a holiday configuration, but there will probably still be some long term closures still in place. Knowing where these pinch points are will be critical to a smooth ride.
No matter what, making sure you’re prepared with a good travel safety kit, full tank of gas and knowing where to go will make all the difference in this year’s adventure over the river and through the woods.
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.
Here are some 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 Mostly Higher than Last Year
- Airfares cost 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