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AAA predicts more than 53 million people will travel for Thanksgiving

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AAA Travel's latest data shows that the combination of 6.4 million more people traveling for Thanksgiving this year and the reopening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international tourists will result in roads and airports being more congested.

AAA Travel's latest data shows that the combination of 6.4 million more people traveling for Thanksgiving this year and the reopening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international tourists will result in roads and airports being more congested. (Igor Mojzes/Dreamstime/TNS)

AAA Travel is predicting that 53.4 million Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of 13% from 2020.

According to AAA Travel’s latest data, the combination of 6.4 million more people traveling for the holiday this year and the reopening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international tourists will result in roads and airports being more congested.

The estimated 2021 totals would bring travel volumes within 5% of the pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019. As for how people will get to their destinations, 90% of Americans plan to travel by car, despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year.

For those planning to fly commercial, the limited capacity of flights and staffing challenges could cause issues when booking and traveling. AAA Travel says Americans should consider working with a travel adviser who can make any last-minute changes to travel plans, explore travel insurance options and more.

“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” AAA Travel senior vice president Paula Twidale said. “Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.”

“International travel reopening will allow people to reconnect with friends and family and explore new places, while also giving a much-needed boost to the economy,” Twidale continued. “But it also means airports will be busier than we’ve seen, so travelers must plan for longer lines and extra time for TSA checks.”

As for where holiday travelers are heading this Thanksgiving, the top 10 domestic destinations include Orlando, Anaheim, Dallas, Phoenix, Honolulu, Kahului, Atlanta, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

International travel is also bouncing back thanks to the easing of long-standing restrictions, with Cancun, Montego Bay, Aruba, Los Cabos, Nassau, St. Lucia, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Calgary and Paris rounding out the most-desired locations this holiday season.

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