Thanksgiving Travel Volume at Highest Level Since 2005

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Travelling during the holidays almost always includes some time stuck in traffic. It doesn’t matter whether you set out first thing in the morning or wait until evening, traffic is a given. According to AAA, this year’s Thanksgiving traffic will be exceptionally high.

It estimates that more than 55 million people will be venturing at least 50 miles to get to their Thanksgiving dinners this year. That’s the second-highest number since tracking began in 2000 and the highest number since 2005.

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This marks a 2.9 percent increase over last year or 1.6 million additional people. Most of those people will be driving to their destination so start figuring in some extra time for travel right now.

The worst time to travel is Wednesday afternoon. No matter where you go traffic will be worse. Expect it to take four times longer than normal to get to wherever you need to be on Wednesday if you live in a major metro area.

  • An estimated 49.3 million travelers will be on the road this Thanksgiving.
  • Air travel is also busy with 4.45 million people flying to their turkey dinner.
  • Another 1.49 million will travel by train, bus, or cruise ship.

Those who started out travelling earlier in the week faced shorter delays, but no matter when you travel this week, things are slow going. Part of what makes Wednesday tough is the overlap with commuter traffic from people who don’t have the day off and those heading out for the holiday.

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Depending on exactly where you live, the worst time to travel varies. In San Francisco the worst time to be on the road is from 2-4pm, while Atlanta is a mess from 5:30-7:30 pm. Meanwhile, plan to take a break between 4:30 and 6:30 in Boston when it will take 3.4 times longer than usual to get anywhere.

That’s a lot of time to sit in traffic all for the sake of a turkey and some pumpkin pie. If you’re heading out for a road trip this Thanksgiving, leave yourself plenty of time. Know there are going to be delays and roll with it rather than getting frustrated. Just keep thinking about the pumpkin pie that awaits.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin

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