Granite Staters will take the longest journeys in New England for Thanksgiving

The region was blanketed with fresh snow on Tuesday evening, ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel. By Denis Tangney Jr

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By Katy Savage

November 22, 2023

This year’s Thanksgiving travel is expected to break records with millions of Americans flocking to a home cooked meal. 

More than 55 million people are projected to travel 50 miles between Wednesday, Nov. 22, and Sunday, Nov. 26, making this year’s holiday one of the highest travel volumes ever recorded, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) 

The surge in travel could mark the busiest Thanksgiving period in the two decades the AAA has been monitoring travel, second only to 2019 and 2005 and a 2% increase over the previous year, according to a Nov. 13 report. 

“Thanksgiving week generally marks the beginning of the winter driving season in New England and it’s also one of the heaviest travel weeks this year,” said Daniel Goodman, a spokesperson for AAA Northeast. 

AAA estimates 2.5 million people will travel in New England alone, which is up 2.6% from last year and the highest since 2001, when 1.9 million New Englanders traveled. 

“Looking back over the last year, we’ve seen travel demand has been strong,” said Goodman, explaining a decline in gas prices may have enticed more people to hit the road. (The current average price of gas in New Hampshire is $3.28,  per gallon. Last year about this time, it was $3.77).  “It reflects the desire to get away, spend time with family and friends.”

Air travel is expected to experience a significant uptick, with an estimated 4.7 million Americans taking flight   — the most since 2005 and nearly 7% more than last year. The majority of Thanksgiving travelers, however, will probably opt for road trips, with AAA projecting 49.1 million Americans will travel by car, a 1.7% increase from 2022.

A November survey commissioned by Gunther Mazda found New Hampshire and Vermont residents are poised to take the longest journeys in New England, driving approximately five hours. The survey of 3,000 people found Maine residents expect a 4.6-hour drive, Connecticut 4.4 hours, Massachusetts 2.7 hours, and Rhode Island just one hour.

In addition to road and air travel, AAA anticipates 1.55 million people will travel via cruise, bus, and train, an 11% increase over last year.

“Travel demand has been strong all year and AAA’s Thanksgiving forecast reflects that continued desire to get away and spend time with loved ones,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel said in the Nov. 13 report. “The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback. Thanksgiving cruises are mostly sold out, with many travelers looking to spend the holiday at sea.”

As airports prepare for increased foot traffic, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) forecasts screening 2.9 million people nationwide on Sunday, Nov. 26, surpassing a record set on June 30.

In the midst of these travel projections, a potential government shutdown was averted last week when President Joe Biden signed a short-term government funding bill, preventing disruptions that could have impacted TSA agents and air traffic controllers.  

“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a press release last week. “We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season.”

For those traveling by car, AAA predicts Wednesday afternoon, from 2-6 p.m. is the worst time to drive. The best times are Wednesday morning, before 11 a.m. and Sunday morning, before noon.

 

READ MORE: How a Republican-led government shutdown would affect you

 

 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Based in Enfield, Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outside as much as possible.

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