Holiday travel in the Northeast is up 2.3 percent this year, making it the third highest travel year on record, according to AAA.
The service released its travel predictions for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and estimated that around 55.4 million Americans will travel over 50 miles from Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
“The travel rebound after the pandemic continues with more Americans taking a trip to see loved ones and new vistas,” said Robert Sinclair, Jr. of AAA Northeast. “The most popular mode of travel for this and all holidays is the motor vehicle, with Americans set to enjoy lower gasoline prices compared to a year ago.”
The top two years for travel since AAA started tracking travel patterns were 2005 and 2019, respectively.
According to AAA, the top travel destinations in the U.S. are Orlando, Fla., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Miami. New York City is the sixth most popular Thanksgiving destination in 2023.
If you’re planning an international trip, expect a lot of companions on flights to Cancun and Mexico City and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
On the roadways
AAA said about 49.1 million Americans, 1.7 percent more than in 2022, will drive to their Turkey Day vacations. They’ll also be paying less for gas this year. The national average for gas prices is $3.36 per gallon, which is 42 cents less than in 2022. AAA said that the price of gas may decrease even more, as crude oil marketers predict the conflict in Gaza will not escalate out of the region.
Wednesday, Nov. 22 is predicted to be the busiest day for motor vehicle travel. INRIX, a travel data company, said average travel times on the roads could be as high as 88% over normal travel times. The service said commuters should leave early in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid heaviest traffic hours.
The New York State Thruway is reconstructing its rest stops throughout the state. 11 are completed, but the following 12 rest stops are still under construction, so be sure to plan food and bathroom breaks accordingly: Sloatsburg, Ramapo, Ulster, Malden, Guilderland, Pattersonville, Oneida, Warners, Port Byron, Scottsville, Ontario, Angola.
In the skies
Airfare is five percent higher than last year, but the number of Americans who will fly for the holiday is also increasing. AAA said that around 4.7 million people are expected to fly this holiday, which is 6.6 percent more than 2022.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 and Wednesday, Nov. 22 are expected to be the busiest and most expensive air travel days. Sunday, Nov. 26 and Monday Nov. 27 are the most popular days to return home.
If you’re flying out to a location in the U.S. that requires driving, the good news is that domestic rental car prices are down 20 percent from 2022 at $590. The bad news? Rental car reservations overseas went up by nine, averaging $696.
An average domestic plane ticket costs $681 this year, which is five percent higher than 2022, while domestic hotel prices went down 12 percent to an average of $598.
International prices, as expected, will be a bit higher. An average international flight price did decrease by 5.7 percent, at around $1,231. But International hotel prices went up by five percent, around $772.
Alternative travel options
Cruises, buses and trains are more popular this year, as commuters are getting more comfortable with more public transportation methods. AAA said around 1.55 million Americans will use a bus, train or boat to travel in 2023, which is up 11 percent from 2022.
These modes of transportation are cheaper in the U.S., with domestic cruise prices down 12 percent at an average of $1,507. By contrast, overseas cruises will cost around $2,902, which is 24 percent more than in 2022.