BALTIMORE, MD (November 18, 2022) – AAA is projecting that more than one million Marylanders will travel 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The number is flat compared to last year, representing less than a one percent increase.  

While travel continues to rebound, the Maryland travel forecast is still nearly 10% below pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travel volume in 2019, which was the second-highest travel on record for a holiday in Maryland. AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday travel period from Wednesday, November 23, to Sunday, November 27.

As usual, most travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting that more than 90% of travelers – more than 956,000 Marylanders – will be hitting the road, down slightly from last year.  “Gas prices are trending about 30 cents more than last year nationally and here, in Maryland, however, most travelers do not appear fazed,” said Ragina Cooper Ali, spokeswoman for AAA in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Today’s national gas price average is $3.70, an increase of 29 cents compared to last year. Maryland’s average is $3.67, up 32 cents compared to year-ago prices.

“Consistent with what we have been seeing throughout the year at AAA, the travel demand has continued, and the Thanksgiving holiday is certainly no exception,” said Ali. “Despite increased costs across the board, people are making plans and finding ways to spend time with family and friends.”

Air Travel Increased by Nearly 6%

Nearly seven percent of Maryland travelers will fly to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting 72,350 Marylanders will take to the skies, representing nearly a 6% jump compared to last year but still down almost 17% from the residents who flew over the Thanksgiving holiday pre-pandemic in 2019.

“Airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Ali suggested. “Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed, or you need to reschedule.”

Bus, Train, and Other Modes of Transportation See the Largest Increase – Up More Than 20%

Consistent with national travel trends, other modes of transportation will see the biggest jump for Thanksgiving holiday travel. AAA is projecting that approximately 17,000 Maryland residents will travel by bus, train, or some other mode of transportation over the holiday weekend, a jump of more than 20% over last year. The 2021 numbers remain down nearly 17% compared to 2019.

“Travel by other modes has been the slowest area to recover post-pandemic, but with travel restrictions lifted and more people feeling comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s not surprising that interest in cruises, buses, or trains has returned in a significant way,” Ali added. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”  

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Across Maryland
 TotalAutomobileAirOther(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2022 (Forecast)1,045,400956,04072,35017,010
2021 (Actual)1,042,180911,56068,52014,010
2019 (Actual)1,157,7301,049,50086,68021,575
Change (2022 to 2021)0.3%4.9%5.6%21.4%
Change (2022 to 2019)-9.7%-8.9%-16.5%-21.2%

AAA’s National Travel Projections

Nationally, AAA forecasts:

  • Nearly 55 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. This year is projected to be the third busiest Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000*.
  • Nearly 49 million are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have risen slightly – up 0.4% from 2021 – car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.
  • Other modes of transportation will see the biggest jump for Thanksgiving holiday travel, with more than 1.4 million travelers going out of town by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23% from 2021 and 96% of 2019 travel volumes.
  • Air travel will be up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and just 1% shy of the 2019 volume.

Busy Holiday Anticipated For AAA Roadside Crews – Slow Down Move Over

AAA estimates it will rescue over 400,000 stranded motorists nationwide during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with more than 9,000 in Maryland. Drivers are always reminded to Slow Down and Move Over for AAA Roadside Assistance vehicles, tow trucks, police, other emergency first responders, and the motorists they assist on the side of the road.  Maryland’s Move Over law requires drivers to make a lane change, if safe to do so, or slow down when approaching ANY stopped, standing, or parked vehicle displaying warning signals, including first responders and other drivers (as of October 1, 2022).

Earlier this week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared November 14-18 as Crash Responder Safety Week in Maryland, “in support of a national effort to raise awareness of the critical role motorists play in keeping first responders safe as they perform their duties on our highways,” according to the MD State Highway Administration. 

Roads Will Be Bustling – Make Safety a Priority

INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas, with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 am on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4 pm-8 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

AAA and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) remind motorists to give themselves ample time to arrive at their destinations and focus on safety and responsible driving behaviors.

“As motorists set out this week traveling to visit family and friends, we want all travelers to arrive at their destination safely,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Slow down, buckle up, share the road, and focus on the task at hand – responsible driving.”

Best & Worst Times to Travel (by auto)

Date Worst travel time Best travel time 
11/23/22 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Before 8:00 AM, After 8:00 PM 
11/24/22 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 6:00 PM 
11/25/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM 
11/26/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM 
11/27/22 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM Before 11:00 AM, After 8:00 PM 

Schedule Vehicle Checkups to Minimize the Risk of a Breakdown

Before any long trip, AAA suggests inspecting your vehicle to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes, and fluid levels. However, if your vehicle has been sitting idle, these systems are particularly vulnerable to deteriorating without proper care or maintenance.

Whether traveling a distance or staying local, minimize the risk of spending precious time over your Thanksgiving holiday stranded along the roadside by ensuring your vehicle is road-ready.

Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit – a world leader in critical information, analytics, and expertise to forge solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide – developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases.

These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices, stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and IHS Markit have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000. Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. 

The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken.   

The travel forecast is reported in person trips. In particular, AAA and IHS Markit forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 10, 2022.

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