More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA Hawaii. This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people will travel compared with last year, a 2.9% increase.
“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”
By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast
- Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
- Planes: With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.
Warm weather beckons this Thanksgiving
Hawaii has two of the top ten destinations for travelers this holiday. According to data collected from AAA Travel bookings, the top destinations are:
- Orlando, FL
- Anaheim, CA
- New York, NY
- Las Vegas, NV
- Honolulu, HI
- Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- Tampa, FL
- Maui, HI
- Phoenix, AZ
- Miami, FL
For those travelers planning an international vacation for Thanksgiving, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice. Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica are AAA’s top international destinations this Thanksgiving, with Munich, Germany rounding out the top five.
AAA’s travel experts remind travelers that it’s not too late to begin planning a Thanksgiving getaway. Visit AAA.com/Travel for travel planning resources.
Travel tips for the friendly skies
AAA Hawaii recommends that air travelers check the terms and conditions of their airfare before encountering unpleasant surprises at the airport. Some airlines now charge for seat selection and carry-on luggage as well as checked luggage, and some discount airlines charge travelers for printing their boarding passes at the airport instead of at home. Flight change fees and policies have also become more restrictive in recent years. In many cases you can avoid additional airline fees by packing light, pre-loading movies and shows on your tablets and smartphones to avoid WiFi costs, and packing your own snacks, pillow or blanket.
Lower gas prices fuel road trips; AAA to rescue more than 368,000
Gas prices have remained remarkably stable in Hawaii, with the statewide average currently at $3.66 a gallon for regular unleaded fuel. That’s 21 cents per gallon cheaper than at this time last year.
More than 368,000 motorists are expected to call AAA for assistance at the roadside this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. And remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.
Car rental costs peak, hotel prices mixed
Holiday road trippers should budget more for rental cars this year, which have reached their highest average prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday (since 1999), at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 5% to an average nightly cost of $158.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 1.
In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.