AAA projects over 1.3 million New Jerseyans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up 3.5 percent from those who traveled for Thanksgiving 2016 and the largest projected number of travelers since 2007. Nationwide, 51 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of 1.6 million travelers compared with last year, a 3.3 percent increase over 2016. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26
“Across the country, and in New Jersey, this Thanksgiving weekend is expected to be the busiest for the holiday in 10 years,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AA Mid-Atlantic. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes, driving up the confidence in consumers who are more willing to spend on travel this year.”
Volume for all modes of travel for the Thanksgiving weekend is anticipated to increase for 2017 with air travel anticipated to experience the biggest percentage growth, up 4.9 percent nationally and 5.4 percent in New Jersey, over the 2016 holiday.
“With more money in their pockets, consumers are willing to spend on air travel this year, which tends to be the more expensive mode of travel. However, this year flying for the holiday is not as expensive as other years with average airfares the lowest in five years,” commented Noble. “Given the strong uptick in air travel projections, air passengers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours early in order to make their flights, as airports are expected to be exceptionally busy.”
- New Jersey—1,131,382 (89% of all travelers), an increase of 3.4% from 2016.
- Nationally— 51 million people (89% of holiday travelers), a 3.2% increase from last year.
- New Jersey— 110,624 (9% of all travelers), an increase of 5.4% from those who flew last year.
- Nationally—3.9 million leisure travelers (8% of holiday travelers), an increase of 4.9% from 2016.
Train, Bus, Watercraft or Multi-Modal Travel:
- New Jersey— 30,621 (2.4% of all travelers), an increase of 0.2% from last year.
- Nationally— 1.5 million travelers (3% of all travelers), an increase 1.1% from last year.
Travelers Still Hitting the Road despite Higher Gas Prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority – more than 89 percent – of holiday travelers will drive to their destination this year. Over 1 million New Jersey residents will take a holiday road trip this Thanksgiving, an increase of 3.4 percent over last year. Nationally, 45 million Americans are planning a Thanksgiving road trip which represents an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
“At a time of year when gas prices typically decline, motorists are finding higher prices at the pump compared to last year,” Noble said. “Unfortunately, motorists filling up for their upcoming holiday trip will likely not find relief at the pump. However, once the holiday weekend is over prices should start to trend downward, as cooler weather becomes the norm and gasoline demand declines.”
By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast
- Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
- Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
- Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at five percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
- Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
- Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
- Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.
AAA will rescue thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists nationwide this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Based on last year’s figures, AAA Mid-Atlantic anticipates coming to the aid of over 31,000 disabled motorists in the club’s five-state and Washington D. C. region, with over 7,500 of those breakdowns in New Jersey.
Highs and Lows: Airfare and Car rentals rates
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.
Travelers can expect to spend any ‘flight savings’ on car rentals. At $70/day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. The increase in rates may be attributed to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles in the fleets with added features and benefits.