Thanksgiving Travel Expected to Rebound to Pre-Pandemic Levels

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AAA projects 53.4 million Americans (16.2 percent of the population) will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 percent from 2020.

This brings travel within 5 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, and this is the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travel since 2005. About 746,000 Oregonians will head over the river and through the woods for turkey and all the trimmings.

While 90 percent of travelers will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations, air travel is seeing a huge bump this year, up 80 percent compared to 2020. With 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving, along with the recent opening of U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers, people should expect busy roads and airports. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 24 through Sunday, November 28.

“Travel is again high on the list for Americans who’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. But it means travelers should plan for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded than what we experienced during the pandemic. Pack your patience and expect delays,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

“Thanksgiving travel looks much different this year. Whether you go by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges during your trip,” says Doreen Loofburrow, senior vice president of travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “The travel industry is impacted by the same staffing challenges as other industries, as well as limited flight capacity. Still, it’s possible to have a fun and unforgettable trip.”

AAA projects 90.3 percent of travelers (48.3 million Americans) will drive to their Thanksgiving destination. This is an 8.4 percent increase from 2020.

In Oregon, roughly 652,000 travelers will drive.

While automobile travel will increase this year, it will remain lower than 2019 when 49.9 million Americans drove; however, will exceed the volume of travelers seen as recently as 2018 when 48 million drove to their Thanksgiving destinations.

 

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