Staying home for Turkey Day? That might be something to be thankful for this year.
About 55.4 million Americans are planning to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA’s holiday travel forecast — the third-busiest Thanksgiving since the organization started collecting the data in 2000.
“For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement, adding that the forecast reflects strong demand for travel seen throughout 2023.
Those crowds of travelers are also facing the possibility of some complications if Congress can’t steer clear of a Nov. 18 federal government shutdown, just in time for the holiday weekend.
If lawmakers can’t agree on a plan to keep the government open, the shutdown will take effect Saturday. That would force federal employees such as air traffic controllers or Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees to work without pay during one of the year’s busiest travel periods.
The total number of travelers this year aren’t expected to reach the highest pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 56 million Americans. hit the road for Thanksgiving in 2019.
But it’s up slightly from last year, with 2.3% more Americans planning to travel between Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 26.
Most travelers are expected to drive to their destination, with 49.1 million planning to travel by car during the holiday weekend, the forecast said. Drivers should expect to hit the most traffic on Wednesday, Nov. 22 between 2 and 6 p.m..
About 4.7 million people are planning to fly during Thanksgiving week, the forecast showed. That would make it the busiest Thanksgiving for air travel in 18 years.
Consumers have been giving mixed signals on how much they’re willing to spend on food, gifts and travel this holiday season. According to an earlier Bankrate survey, more than three-quarters of Americans were planning to alter their holiday travel plans to cut back on costs, by staying home or swapping flights for road trips.