AAA expects plenty of road, airport traffic during busiest Thanksgiving travel period in 12 years

Thanksgiving dinner is about families being together, and that means lots of people will travel. Millions of Americans move by plane, train, and automobile each Thanksgiving, but AAA Travel is predicting—thanks to a strong economy—that this year’s Thanksgiving will be the busiest since 2005. In fact, they’re forecasting that nearly 51 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more between November 22 and 26.

AAA's forecast by the numbers

  •  Travelers by automobile:

    45.5 million
  • Travelers by air:

    3.9 million
  • Travelers by train or other:

    1.5 million

  • National average gas price for regular as of Nov. 16:

  • Projected increase in travelers in 2017 vs. 2016:

    +1.6 million
  • Years that travel volume will have increased:

    9 in a row

The factors that affect the forecast

  • Economy still going strong

    Overall economic growth has been strong, with the unemployment rate approaching historic lows.
  • Consumers feel optimistic

    Household net worth has gone up sharply, and consumer sentiment has reached a 13-year high.
  • Gas prices rising steadily

    The national average for a gallon of regular is around $2.56, which is 34 cents more than last year.
Road traffic forecast for major cities, according to INRIX
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, transportation analytics company INRIX predicts drivers will experience the greatest  congestion in the early evening as early as Tuesday, Nov. 21, as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent compared to a traffic-free trip.

  • Atlanta

    Busiest Atlanta hotspots

    • I-75 North at Chastain Road

    • I-85 South at I-985

    • I-285 CCW at I-20

  • Austin

    Busiest Austin hotspots

    • I-35 South at FM-2001
    • I-35 South at Slaughter Lane
    • US-290 East at TX-95
  • Boston

    Busiest Boston hotspots

    • I-90 West at I-84/US-20
    • I-90 West at MA-122
    • I-93 South at MA-24
  • Busiest Chicago hotspots

    • I-90 West at I-190
    • I-294 South at Hinsdale Oasis
    • I-90/I-94 East at I-290

  • Dallas

    Busiest Dallas hotspots

    • US-75 South at I-45/I-30
    • I-35W South at Garden Acres
    • US-75 South at I-45/I-30
  • Houston

    Busiest Houston hotspots

    • I-610 South at Beechnut Street
    • I-10 East at US-59
    • US-59 at Beltway 8
  • Los Angeles

    Busiest Los Angeles hotspots

    • I-5 South at Valley View Ave.
    • I-10 East at I-5/US-101
    • I-405 South at Woodruff Ave.
  • New York City

    Busiest New York hotspots

    • I-495 East at NY-106/NY-107
    • Grand Central Parkway East at Northern State Parkway
    • I-95 North at CT-25/CT-8

  • Philadelphia

    Busiest Philadelphia hotspots

    • I-295 South at I-76
    • I-76 East at Belmont Avenue
    • I-76 West at PA-320
  • Pittsburgh

    Busiest Pittsburgh hotspots

    • PA-130 West at PA-711

    • US-19 Truck South at Babcock

    • I-376 East at Braddock Avenue

  • San Diego

    Busiest San Diego hotspots

    • I-15 North at CA-79
    • I-5 North at Tamarack Avenue
    • I-5 North at California Street
  • Washington, D.C.

    Busiest Washington, D.C. spots

    • I-95 South at US-17/US-1
    • MD-295 North at I-195
    • I-95 South at VA-234

What it means for you

AAA Travel predicts that more than 45 million automobile travelers will account for 89 percent of all Thanksgiving holiday weekend trips.

With so many on the road, it’s no surprise this is a busy time for AAA’s Roadside Assistance. AAA expects to rescue about 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving. Want to avoid being one? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get your battery checked

    If your battery is more than three years old, don’t risk getting stranded. One easy way to have it tested is with AAA Battery Service, which will come directly to you. Learn more about AAA Battery Service.
  • Check your tire pressure

    Underinflated or unevenly worn tires can lead to sudden blowouts, especially in hot weather. Simply monitoring tire pressure can go a long way toward preventing such interruptions.
  • Bring a spare key

    Despite the wide adoption of wireless “smart” keys, AAA hasn't seen a significant reduction in lockout calls. Having a backup key can’t prevent a lockout, but can make it much easier to resolve.

  • Get a checkup

    Dead batteries and flat tires are most common, but AAA tows lots of vehicles with unforeseen engine, transmission, and brake issues.  Not sure where to go? Consider a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
  • Pack an emergency kit

    Every vehicle should have a kit with a phone charger, flashlight, first-aid kit, tire pressure gauge, adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, and snacks.
  • Get the Auto Club App

    Whether you’re looking to map a route, find low gas prices, request Roadside Assistance, or find an Approved Auto Repair facility, the Auto Club App makes it simple. Learn more about the Auto Club App.