Thanksgiving 2022 travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, AAA says



Colorado travelers could near the previous Thanksgiving travel record set in 2019.

DENVER — Thanksgiving travel is back in Colorado.

Concerns about the economy, inflation and a jump in seasonal illnesses won’t stop 951,000 Coloradans from traveling for Thanksgiving, according to the latest report from AAA Colorado.

The report found that 951,000 Coloradans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving — 26,000 (2.8%) more Colorado travelers than last year’s holiday. That’s just 7,000 fewer than 2019, which remains the record in Colorado.

AAA predicts 54.6 million Americans will be traveling by road or airports, just below pre-pandemic levels.

“Travel is roaring back from the pandemic,” AAA regional director of public affairs Skyler McKinley said. “Facing high gas prices, other inflationary pressures, and a wobbly economy, travel spending still hit its highest point since the pandemic began. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so give yourself extra early and be as flexible as you can with your travel plans.”

Travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion Monday to Wednesday afternoon and early evening during Thanksgiving week. AAA said traffic will be lighter during the morning and late evening hours and on Thanksgiving Day.

AAA forecasts 48.65 million Americans will set out for a holiday road trip, in an increase of 203,000 drivers over 2021.

Road travelers will encounter lower gas prices in Colorado compared to the national average.

On Tuesday, Colorado drivers paid an average price of $3.45 per gallon, below the national average of $3.76. Colorado gas prices are up around 60 cents over 2019.

Tips for air travelers:

  • Check in early online. 
  • Monitor your flight status using your air carrier’s mobile app.
  • Arrive 2-3 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Pack medications an an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Tips for air travelers who haven’t booked yet

  • Book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
  • Book a direct flight. Otherwise, build in extra time between connections – in case your first flight is delayed.
  • Consider traveling on Thanksgiving Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.

Travel prices are mostly higher

  • Airfares cost 22% more than last year: The lowest round-trip airfare costs $166 vs. $135 in 2021. 
  • Hotels cost 17% more than 2021: A mid-range AAA Three Diamond Property will run $218 per night, up from $187 last year.
  • Car rentals cost 7% less, with an average daily rate of $90.

RELATED: Turkey prices were up 17% in October, but Thanksgiving shoppers will likely see discounts

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Holiday season in Colorado

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