GasBuddy announced in it’s 2021 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey that 32 percent of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, a decline from 35 percent last year and a dramatic drop from the 65 percent that planned to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2019. Recently AAA 53.4 million people to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 percent from 2020. This brings travel volumes within 5 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80 percent over last year.
Again, both of these predictions are based on consumers’ responses to surveys, but it also shows a telling difference between those who are financially comfortable enough to travel, and those who may not travel due to high gas prices.
GasBuddy states the national average price of gasoline is projected to decline to $3.35 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day, still amongst the highest drivers seen in over seven years. It adds there remains a remote chance that should oil suddenly surge, gas prices could quickly follow and potentially beat 2012’s record for most expensive national average ever for the date: $3.44 per gallon.
Those who are traveling are opting for shorter trips, with most (13 percent) expecting to spend 1-3 hours in the car. When it comes to making a rest stop, decent gas prices remained of most importance to those selecting, though location and convenience rose above the rest stop’s cleanliness in 2021’s results.
AAAs forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year, 90 percent of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of travel. Although the car is still the most popular choice for travelers, a greater share will opt to travel by air and other modes such as bus, train or cruise this year.