More Travelers Carve Out Time for Thanksgiving Travel

AAA’s forecast shows highest number of travelers nationwide since 2005


AAA projects nearly 51 million Americans will travel nationwide this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent jump from last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see more than 972,000 Arizona travelers, up 3.3 percent from last year and the highest travel volume since 2007.

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Michelle Donati, communications manager for AAA Arizona. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

By the Numbers: AAA’s 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • Road trip ready: More than 844,000 Arizonans are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.3 percent over last year.
  • Fueling up: The residual impact of recent months’ hurricanes linger, leaving drivers to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2015.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air at 4.4 percent, with more than 66,000 Arizonans taking flight.
  • Cheaper airfare: Travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average airfare in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes.
  • Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.

Travelers Beware: Arizona Traffic Hotspots
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening - as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week - as commuters mix with holiday travelers. AAA and INRIX have identified 10 hot spots in the metro Phoenix area for Thanksgiving travel congestion:

  • I-10 W at 59th Avenue/Exit 138

  • AZ-87 N at AZ-188

  • AZ-101 S at Guadalupe Road/Exit 56

  • AZ-87 S at N Bush Highway

  • I-10 E at Baseline Road/Exit 155

  • I-10 E at 7th Street/Exit 145

  • I-17 N at I-10/Exit 200

  • I-10 W at Dysart Road/Exit 129

  • I-10 E at Baseline Road/Exit 155

  • AZ-101 W at 19th Avenue/Exit 24

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

AAA offers a variety of travel resources. This includes AAA Mobile, a free app for Smartphone users. The app uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby discounts, summon roadside assistance, find current gas prices and more. Travelers can learn more

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.