Thanksgiving travel forecast: Virginia to see busiest travel since 2007

aaa thanksgivingAAA projects that 1.3 million (1,373,482) Virginians will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of nearly 50,000 (49,377) compared to last year.

This represents a 3.7% increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers in Virginia since 2007.  The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.



AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Forecast Highlights

Total Travel & PercentageAutomobile Travel & PercentageAir Travel & PercentageOther Modes Of Travel & Percentage
Virginia1,373,482 Virginians

Up 3.7 percent from 1,324,105 in 2015


(90.5 percent)

Up 3.9 percent from 1,197,002 in 2015


(7.2 percent)

Up 2.7 percent from 96,743 in 2015


(2.3 percent)

Up 1.8 percent from 30,360 in 2015

National48,656,000 Americans

Up 1.8 percent from 47,774,000 in 2015


(89.4 percent)

Up 1.9 percent from 42,714,000 in 2015


(7.6 percent)

Up 1.6 percent from 3,634,000 in 2015


(3 percent)

Up .8 percent from  1,426,000 in 2015


“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,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.

Driving remains most popular mode of travel- The vast majority—more than 89 percent—of holiday travelers nationwide 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 – Monday’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.17.  That is 12 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving Day last year ($2.05) and most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85.  Virginia drivers are paying just over $2 per gallon on average ($2.02 on 11/14/16), compared to $1.90 on Thanksgiving Day last year and paying some of the lowest gas prices in the country (14th lowest).  “Despite some incremental gas price increases in September and October, 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” said Arnette.

Thanksgiving airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed – According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, 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
AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. 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 getaway. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a 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

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

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.


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