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AAA: 48.7 Million Americans to Travel this Thanksgiving

1 Million More Travelers Than Last Year Will Take To The Highways, Skies And Seas

[Note: The AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Survey was taken before the election. AAA does not expect the election results to change many people’s travel plans for a couple of reasons. First, Thanksgiving travel is usually centered around visiting family and friends, and second, most people make their travel plans before the election, especially those traveling long distances.]

Bellevue, Wash. (Nov. 15, 2016) – AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.

“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington Spokesperson. “Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are on the decline again, at $2.68 as a
Washington state average. We are expecting busy roads in the Pacific Northwest, with Seattle being one of the top ten destinations for holiday travelers.”

thanksgiving 2016

Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving

The vast majority—more than 89 percent—of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers.

Thanksgiving gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade

Today’s Washington state average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.68, 16 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.52), but a few cents cheaper than a month ago. While it’s not the case locally, most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008.

Thanksgiving airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed

According to AAA Travel, airfares are projected to increase 21 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $205 for a roundtrip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $123. Daily car rental rates will average $52, 13 percent lower than last Thanksgiving.

Many travelers will journey west this Thanksgiving

This year’s top destinations for Thanksgiving include many popular west coast cities, as well as perennial family-friendly favorites. The most popular destinations this Thanksgiving, based on bookings, are:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. San Diego, California
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. New York City, New York
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana
  7. Anaheim, California
  8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. Seattle, Washington

AAA will rescue thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving

Nationally, AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists this Thanksgiving. In Washington and northern Idaho alone, AAA expects to rescue around 6,300 motorists, with the primary response being a tow, lockout services and battery replacement or boost. Last year, AAA Washington received more than 460 calls above the holiday average due to colder temperatures. With winter weather imminent, AAA recommends that motorists check the condition of their
battery and tires, and pack emergency kits in their vehicles, before heading out on a holiday or Apple Cup road trip. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 250 local Washington AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway

Before setting out on a Thanksgiving trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at

About the travel forecast:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS 2016 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast can be found here.

About AAA Washington:

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws, the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. Nearly 120 years later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

Members of AAA Washington receive exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts on hotels and rental cars, comprehensive insurance options, and personalized trip planning. AAA Washington was named a Best Place to Work by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted the best Travel/Tourism Company by 425 Business readers in 2023, and AAA was named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s Washington and northern Idaho stores and at 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

Media Contact

Fearey o/b/o AAA Washington 

Twitter: @AAA_Washington
Facebook: AAA Washington
Instagram: aaawashington

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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