Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

Some airlines are expecting their busiest Thanksgiving ever.

As Thanksgiving approaches, millions of Americans are gearing up to hit the highway or head to the airport -- and some airlines are expecting their busiest Thanksgiving ever.

Here's what you need to know:

Thanksgiving travel by air

AAA projects 4.7 million travelers will fly over Thanksgiving -- a 6.6% increase from last year. This would mark the highest number of people flying for Thanksgiving since 2005.

The busiest and most expensive days to fly before Thanksgiving will be Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to AAA.

The best day to go to the airport for Thanksgiving is Monday, Nov. 20, when flights will be 12% cheaper than on Nov. 22, according to Expedia.

AAA projects 4.7 million travelers will fly over Thanksgiving

MORE: Thanksgiving food price forecast, retailers with early deals and expert savings tips

The Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen 30 million passengers during its Thanksgiving travel period, which runs from Nov. 17 to Nov. 28.

"We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA's history," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. "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. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck® lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes."

The most popular domestic destinations for Thanksgiving this year are New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida, according to Hopper. Internationally, the most popular cities are London, Tokyo and Paris.

The cheapest days to return home will be Friday, Nov. 24, or Monday, Nov. 27, according to Hopper.

United Airlines said it expects to have its busiest Thanksgiving ever, with over 5.9 million passengers -- a 13% increase from last year.

MORE: Supermarkets like Giant, ShopRite giving free turkeys for Thanksgiving again

United anticipates that Sunday, Nov. 26, will be one of its busiest days since before the pandemic, with more than 517,000 people expected to fly.

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Due to remote work, United said its holiday travel period has extended. United said the demand for flying the Monday before Thanksgiving is up nearly 10% from 2019, while demand for flying the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is only up 3%.

American Airlines said it predicts a record 7.8 million passengers over Thanksgiving.

American said Sunday, Nov. 26, and Monday, Nov. 27, will be its busiest days.

"I think the best tip we can offer is to ask everyone to arrive early for your flights," said John Busch, TSA's federal security director at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. "Recommendation is always two hours before a domestic flight, three hours before an international flight."

Thanksgiving travel by road

AAA projects that 55.4 million people will drive 50 miles or farther from home for Thanksgiving

AAA projects that 55.4 million people will drive 50 miles or farther from home for Thanksgiving -- a 2.3% increase from last year. This marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

The busiest day on the roads is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to transportation analytics company INRIX. Drivers should leave home in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest traffic, INRIX said.

On Sunday, Nov. 26, the worst traffic is forecast to be between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The best time to hit the road will be before noon, according to INRIX.

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The Busiest Travel Days Around Thanksgiving

Sally French

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Thanksgiving week tends to draw major airport crowds, and coupled with inevitable weather delays, it can be a brutal time to travel. Not to mention, the conventional wisdom to fly on Tuesdays won't necessarily save you much money.

But some days within Thanksgiving week are significantly busier than others. If you can afford to be flexible with scheduling, you’ll not only save money, but you might also avoid chaos.

The best and worst days to fly around Thanksgiving

NerdWallet analyzed checkpoint travel numbers provided by the Transportation Security Administration from 2019-2022, which tracks the number of passengers screened daily in the U.S. at its checkpoints.

The data shows that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the most crowded day to travel from the seven days before and after Thanksgiving.

Are airports busy on Thanksgiving Day? Our analysis shows that the actual holiday is the least crowded travel day at airports.

From 2019-2022, here were the most to least crowded days for Thanksgiving flying:

Sunday after Thanksgiving (most crowded).

Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Friday before.

Monday after (Cyber Monday).

Saturday after.

Sunday before.

Tuesday before.

Thursday before.

Monday before.

Saturday before.

Thursday after.

Tuesday after (Giving Tuesday).

Friday after (Black Friday).

Wednesday after.

Thanksgiving Day (least crowded).

When broken out by pre- and post-holiday travel, here are the three least-crowded days to travel ranked from least to most crowded. Because they're less crowded and likely less expensive, it makes them some of the best days to fly around Thanksgiving.

Pre-holiday:

Saturday before (least crowded).

Post-holiday:

Wednesday after (least crowded).

Black Friday.

Tuesday after.

Video preview image

Why flying the Sunday after Thanksgiving is so terrible

By almost all metrics, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is pretty much the worst day of the year to fly. In 2019, 2021 and 2022, it was the busiest single day of the entire year in terms of U.S. passengers, based on TSA passenger data.

(The post-Thanksgiving Sunday wasn't the busiest day of the year in 2020 because, well, you know why. The most-crowded-day award in 2020 went to Friday, Feb. 14, which preceded the Presidents Day weekend and pandemic-related travel restrictions.)

Here’s a breakdown of the number of people flying on Thanksgiving Day versus the Sunday after Thanksgiving in three recent years:

For every 100 people who were flying on Thanksgiving Day 2022, there were 183 people flying on the Sunday after.

The smarter, cheaper Thanksgiving weekend itinerary

If you work a standard Monday-Friday workweek, with two days off for the holiday, then leaving Wednesday after work and flying home Sunday night might make sense. That’s the schedule most people follow to avoid taking extra time off, and if you join in, then you’ll pay — both in terms of cost and crowds.

Beyond crowds, expect to pay big this year. Sure, average airfares are actually cheaper this year versus last (and are even cheaper this year versus pre-pandemic), with average airfares for the first six months of 2023 down 7.2% versus the same period in 2022, according to a NerdWallet analysis of consumer price index data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

But airfares can still feel incredibly high. That’s for a few reasons, including that basic economy seats have lowered overall prices. But for folks who end up paying a la carte for benefits that were typically included in the past (e.g., checked bags or the ability to select your seat), the total cost can end up sometimes more expensive given all those ancillary fees .

So how can you choose a better Thanksgiving travel itinerary to save money? Avoid the Wednesday-Sunday itinerary and try these travel days instead.

Travel on Thanksgiving Day

Is flying on Thanksgiving Day busy? Across travel days for the week before and after Thanksgiving, the holiday was the lowest-traffic day every year in our analysis. Book the first flight out for the day — a practice NerdWallet recommends anyway to reduce your odds of a flight delay — and you might even land in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Stay longer

If you can extend your trip, the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is, on average, the second-emptiest day to travel. Especially if you have the option of remote work , you might be able to avoid taking vacation days, despite the longer trip.

Fly on Black Friday

If you must travel during the weekend, consider having Thanksgiving dinner at your own home, then flying somewhere on Black Friday, which is the third-least crowded day to fly on average.

Look at it as a great way to not only avoid airport crowds but also retail crowds since you won’t be out shopping.

The standard rules around the best (and worst) days to fly don’t necessarily apply. Coupling that with conventional wisdom around saving money on flights , flying for Thanksgiving might not be as painful a proposition as you once thought.

How to maximize your rewards

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Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

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These Are the Busiest Days and Times to Travel for Thanksgiving, According to AAA

Best times to hit the road or fly during the holiday.

travel on thanksgiving day

Paul Hennessy/Getty Images

More than 54 million people are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday period, nearly matching pre-pandemic levels.

In total, 54.6 million people are forecast to travel 50 miles or more from their homes for the holiday from Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27, according to AAA . The holiday is projected to be the third busiest for travel since the company started tracking in 2000 and the prediction will bring travel within 98% of pre-pandemic levels.

This year is also expected to be a 1.5% increase from 2021.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving , one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Most travelers who head out for the Thanksgiving holiday will hit the road, with nearly 49 million people planning to drive. But that is 2.5% lower than in 2019.

Americans who are traveling by car should travel early on Wednesday morning or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to skip the crowds, and avoid travel between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

AAA also laid out best and worst times to travel in metro cities around the country. For example, peak congestion through New York will occur from 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. while peak time in Atlanta will occur from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

But there is good news: gas prices have decreased ahead of the holiday with the national average for a gallon sliding three cents in the past week to $3.77, AAA also noted. That is 13 cents less than a month ago, but still 36 cents more than one year ago.

When it comes to air travel, fewer Americans are expected to fly — about 4.5 million of them — but they represent nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. The increase comes as holiday flight prices are expected to reach the highest they’ve been in five years.

Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg has said holiday air travel will likely be an improvement from the chaos of the summer , but warned it still won’t be perfect . 

Twidale said travelers should “anticipate long TSA lines . If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.”

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With about 30 million travelers expected to jam U.S. airports this year and storms in the forecast, you may want to take an extra helping of patience, too.

A crowd of travelers, many wearing backpacks and carrying bags, standing in a meandering line at an airport.

By Steven Moity

A government shutdown won’t be disrupting travel plans this Thanksgiving after Congress agreed on Wednesday to a funding package that lasts through early next year. But clouds and crowds might make your trip a slog anyway.

The Transportation Security Administration expects about 30 million passengers to fly between this Friday and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, an 11.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

The weather won’t make the Thanksgiving crush any easier. Weekend storms in New England and low clouds and rain on the California coast could cause some delays. And Monday through Wednesday morning, a strong cold front will move eastward, slowing operations at airline hubs like Houston and Chicago before soaking the East Coast, said Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

If you haven’t booked your trip already, average airfare prices are slightly lower than they were in 2019, said Melanie Fish, head of public relations at Expedia Brands, and you can really save time and money if you fly on Thanksgiving Day.

“According to Expedia data, flying on Thanksgiving Day is 11 percent cheaper than average for the week of Thanksgiving, but here’s the real kicker — it’s almost half as busy compared to the day before Thanksgiving,” Ms. Fish said.

The four major New York City-area airports run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are expecting 3.1 million passengers from this Monday through the Monday after Thanksgiving, up slightly from three million over the same period last year, said Seth Stein, spokesman for the Port Authority.

Those planning to crowd the streets of Manhattan — instead of the airports — for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can expect the giant balloons to be flying high: The forecast calls for very little wind, Mr. Pastelok said, and the day will be sunny and chilly, with temperatures topping out in the mid-40s.

On the ground

AAA predicts that 49.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations for Thanksgiving, an increase of 1.7 percent compared with 2022, said Robert Sinclair Jr., a senior manager at AAA. That means jammed highways, with the busiest days forecast to be this Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Drivers may face longer travel times than usual on certain routes, AAA reported . Along Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, Calif., expect to spend 88 percent more travel time than usual on Wednesday afternoon. Drivers on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, north of the nation’s capital, are projected to spend 71 percent more time on the road, starting early Wednesday afternoon.

Filling up the tank will cost those drivers less. Average gas prices nationwide are projected to drop to $3.25 per gallon next week, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy . “Average gas prices have plummeted in all 50 states in the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, with $2.99 prices spreading like wildfire just in time for the start of the holiday season,” he said in a news release .

Americans are also taking to the rails at higher numbers this year, with Amtrak expecting 750,000 customers from this Sunday until the Sunday after Thanksgiving, said Jason Abrams, senior public relations manager at Amtrak, a jump of about 2 percent.

Mr. Sinclair of AAA had a bit of advice for all the Thanksgiving road warriors: Beat the Sunday traffic by driving on Saturday. “For those who listen to Ben Franklin,” Mr. Sinclair said, “Fish and company go bad after three days.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2023 .

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Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

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Family enjoying Thanksgiving dinner out of focus in the background with turkey in focus in the foreground

The Best (and Worst) Days to Fly for Thanksgiving

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Peter Thornton

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The leisure travel industry has rebounded from the pandemic more than expected in 2021 and with more Americans comfortable traveling this year, it should be expected that the typical busy travel days around the Thanksgiving holiday will, once again, indeed be busy.

In 2020, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than one million passengers in a day only one time between mid-March and the week leading up to Thanksgiving. In contrast, more than one million passengers have passed through TSA screening every single day since mid-March 2021.

While the numbers are still lower than 2019 levels, airports around the country will be more crowded than we’ve become accustomed to since the start of the pandemic. Hopper is forecasting a daily throughput of about 1.9 million travelers for Thanksgiving, which is about 75% of 2019 levels and nearly double 2020 levels.

The 7 Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving

When to Fly for Thanksgiving 2021

Having flexible travel dates is the key to finding cheap flights any time of the year but this is even more apparent when traveling around a fixed holiday such as Thanksgiving. Historically, the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are two of the busiest (and most expensive) travel days of the year for U.S. domestic travel.

With many kids back in school, it’s looking like this will be the case again in 2021, though if you’re able to flex your travel dates by just a few days or extend your trip to fly a week early or return a week later, you can save some money and avoid the largest crowds at the airport.

What Are the Worst Days to Fly for Thanksgiving 2021?

November calendar on Thanksgiving themed background showing the worst days to travel for Thanksgiving

Of course, the best and worst days to fly for a holiday are subjective. Some might prefer to pay whatever it costs to maximize time with family while others will prioritize cost in order to make the trip a reality. From an airfare perspective, it’s best to avoid the busiest travel days.

  • Wednesday, November 24 th
  • Sunday, November 28 th

Data from both Hopper and CheapAir indicate that domestic airfare is averaging around $300 roundtrip for Thanksgiving travel, with flights returning on Sunday, November 28 th about $90/ticket more expensive than returning on Monday and $180/ticket more expensive than returning on Tuesday. This average is rising as we get closer to the date of travel and the actual price depends heavily on the route and which dates you choose to travel.

For instance, take these examples of roundtrip flights from New York-JFK to Los Angeles searched on October 14, 2021. Note: Prices will likely change before publication.

  • Wed, Nov. 24 – Sun, Nov. 28: $712 nonstop on Delta
  • Mon, Nov. 22 – Sun, Nov. 28: $632 nonstop on Delta
  • Wed, Nov. 24 – Tue, Nov. 30: $418 nonstop on United
  • Mon, Nov. 22 – Tue, Nov. 30: $325 nonstop on United

As you can see, adjusting your return travel date will likely have a bigger impact on price than adjusting your departure travel date. If you’re only flexible on one end, choose to return later after the holiday rather than depart earlier.

Other travel dates that are trending on the expensive side for Thanksgiving travel include:

  • Saturday, November 27 th
  • Monday, November 29 th

The Best and Worst Days to Travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas

What Are the Best Days to Fly for Thanksgiving 2021?

November calendar on Thanksgiving themed background showing the best days to travel for Thanksgiving

Flying on the holiday itself will be one of the cheapest days to fly. Although this may not be ideal for many, if you’re just looking for an affordable way to see the family for Thanksgiving dinner, this may be an option to consider. Otherwise, extending your trip to leave and/or return on off-peak travel days can help reduce the cost of your flight. The cheapest days to fly for Thanksgiving 2021 include:

  • Sunday, November 21 st
  • Monday, November 22 nd
  • Thursday, November 25 th (Thanksgiving Day)
  • Friday, November 26 th
  • Tuesday, November 30 th

Thanksgiving Travel Deals for International Travel

Since most Americans are focused on domestic travel around the Thanksgiving holiday, it is actually a great time to score a deal on international travel. Options are still limited due to travel restrictions, but it’s now possible for vaccinated travelers to fly to several destinations in Europe and a few more South American countries are opening their borders this fall.

You may be surprised to find that it’s cheaper (or only slightly more expensive) to fly your family across the pond than it is to fly across the country during Thanksgiving weekend. And you can usually find the cheapest international fares departing on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which are typically expensive days to fly domestically.

The Best Tools for Flexible Date Searches

Book Thanksgiving Travel Before Halloween

Whether you choose to fly domestic or international, it will be best to book your flights at least three weeks in advance, which is when airfares tend to rise even more. This means you’ll want to try and purchase tickets before the end of October. Hopper is forecasting that domestic airfares will increase around 40% if you wait to book until November and an additional 25% for last-minute bookings.

There have been last-minute sales for Thanksgiving travel in the past but with airlines flying fewer seats this year, it’s less likely that seats will need to be filled at the last-minute. And these types of sales in the past have typically been on ultra-low-cost carriers like Frontier or Spirit and/or have only been for very limited off-peak travel dates/times.

Since most airlines are offering free changes to even the most basic tickets booked for travel through 2021, you can book now with the peace of mind that you can change your travel plans in the future without paying any extra fees. Bottom line, be flexible with your travel dates and book your Thanksgiving trip sooner than later for the best deals.

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The best (and worst) times to travel for Thanksgiving 2023

Here’s how to avoid a traffic jam, according to AAA

It’s that time of year again, when plans are coming together for holiday travel. If you’re hitting the road for Thanksgiving, AAA has revealed some insightful data that could help you avoid a dreaded traffic jam on your way to a holiday gathering or vacation.

According to AAA projections, about 55.4 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holidays. A whopping 88.7% of travelers plan to do so by car. This is a nearly 2% increase over 2022, partially because drivers could be paying less for gas than last Thanksgiving. While 4.7 million people are expected to fly over Thanksgiving—an increase of 6.6% compared to 2022 and the highest number of Thanksgiving air travelers since 2005—driving is still the preferred method.

Using data from INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights, AAA expects Wednesday, November 22 to be the busiest day on the road. Average travel times are expected to increase up to 80% in certain metro areas. If you have to travel on that day, the best time to get on the road is early morning or after 6pm to avoid the heaviest congestion. The busiest drive time is forecast to be between 2pm and 6pm.

“The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates.”

As for the return trip, Friday, November 24 is expected to be the busiest travel day. The best times to depart are before 11am or after 7pm. On Sunday, November 26, aim to hit the road before noon.

The busiest days for flying will be the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as well as the Sunday following. These are also the most expensive days to fly.

If you haven’t made your plans yet, make plans to drive outside of peak travel times. Find the full report with more info on the AAA website .

  • Gerrish Lopez Contributor, New Orleans

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Thanksgiving travel will be crowded, but not as chaotic as the summer

What to know about the busiest airports, high-traffic days and destinations for last-minute trips.

travel on thanksgiving day

A perfectly roasted turkey, grandma’s stuffing and a heaping side of travel chaos: Busy airports and expensive flights have become an annual Thanksgiving tradition, and this year will be no exception.

With many families reuniting for the first time since the pandemic began, nearly 55 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday this year, according to AAA . About 4.5 million plan to fly, an increase of nearly 8 percent from 2021.

This Thanksgiving is expected to be the “biggest air travel period since the start of covid,” said Peer Bueller, the chief financial officer at travel booking website Kayak.

“We’re inching really close to pre-pandemic levels,” especially for international travel, Bueller said.

After the chaos of summer travel this year, many travelers remain wary that staffing issues and extreme weather might derail their plans. Here’s what to know ahead of a busy travel week.

The busiest days at airports

Airlines have sold roughly 25 million seats departing from U.S. airports from the Sunday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after, about 6 percent more capacity than 2019, according to Hayley Berg, lead economist at the travel booking app Hopper .

The largest surge of travelers will come to airports on Wednesday and Sunday, especially in the mornings, according to Berg. Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver airports are expected to be the nation’s busiest all week long, with crowds peaking in the mornings. Las Vegas, Phoenix and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport will also be among the busiest but will see their largest crowds in the evenings, Berg said.

Your guide to surviving airport chaos

If you’re traveling during one of those peak times, expect long lines at security and have backup options in case your plans fall through, Berg said. “If you’re really worried, a lot of airlines are offering $0 changes to try to change your flight to earlier in the day or the day before,” she said.

The Transportation Security Administration will be “fully staffed” for the holiday period, with 20 million passengers expected to pass through checkpoints between Nov. 18 and Nov. 27, according to spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

Farbstein recommends passengers arrive at the airport two hours early for a domestic flight and “pack some of that all-important patience.” If you’re traveling with Thanksgiving foods, be sure to place them in the right bag : solid foods like pie can go in a carry on, but liquids like wine and gravy must be checked.

“If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then please pack it in a checked bag,” Farbstein said in an email.

The holiday foods you can and can’t bring in a carry-on, according to TSA

The days with peak Thanksgiving traffic

Travelers looking to avoid crowded airports may choose to hit the road, but expect significant congestion there, too.

Traffic is expected to peak Wednesday afternoon, especially in major metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, according to INRIX, a transportation analytics firm.

If you need to travel Wednesday, leave before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, try to drive before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m., when traffic will be lightest, according to INRIX. For the return trip, avoid driving between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Gas prices have fallen 11 cents in the last week to $3.66 per gallon on average nationally as of Monday, according to AAA . While far below summer peaks of over $5 a gallon , it will still be the most expensive Thanksgiving for gas prices since AAA started tracking rates in 2000.

Drivers in the Mid-Atlantic region can find some relief at the gas station chain Sheetz, which has reduced its Unleaded 88 fuel to $1.99 a gallon for Thanksgiving week. Navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps now feature gas prices along your route, and Google Maps offers an eco-friendly routing option to find the most fuel-efficient route to your destination.

The best times to drive for Thanksgiving

Expect disruptions, but not as many as summer

Passengers who encountered delays, cancellations, lost bags and other travel disruptions this summer should expect some relief during Thanksgiving, according to experts.

Bueller said he expects disruptions during Thanksgiving to be “much less significant” than the summer, when factors like staffing and weather “blindsided” the industry.

“Thanksgiving is such a time-bound, well-defined travel period, and airlines have been able to prepare for that one much better than this summer,” he said.

Your canceled-flight emergency kit

Airlines say they have been hiring aggressively to deal with staffing shortages and adjusting schedules to improve reliability. Major U.S. carriers completed 99.3 percent of their flights in September and October, with 83 percent arriving on time, excluding those impacted by Hurricane Ian, according to the trade group Airlines for America.

Berg said airlines have been “very conservative” in scheduling for the remainder of 2022 to avoid overextending their fleets and staffing, which should allow them to fly the routes they planned.

“My expectation is that we’ll only see run-of-the-mill disruption, so think late tropical storms, blizzards, ice, snow — the more normal weather-based and every once in a while some equipment-based delays,” Berg said. Hopper expects the worst airports for delays to be Newark, Dallas Love Field and Miami.

Disruption remains top of mind for many air travelers, and Berg said about one-in-five customers are opting to buy Hopper’s Flight Disruption Guarantee , which allows for instant free rebooking in case of a flight disruption.

Storms could slow your return trip

In another relief to travelers, weather across most of the country is expected to be dry and mild on Wednesday, the busiest travel day, The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reports .

Return travel could be more tricky. A storm system may bring rain and snow to the Northeast between Friday and the weekend, but meteorologists remain unsure of its intensity, so keep an eye on the forecast.

The South and Tennessee Valley are likely to see warm temperatures with some intermittent showers through the weekend. Rain is possible across most of Texas on Friday.

The Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, meanwhile, are expected to remain mostly dry and clear. The West should be mild and dry, with some rain possible in the Pacific Northwest.

Traveling? Here’s your region-by-region Thanksgiving forecast.

Last-minute deals on flights and hotels

The average Thanksgiving flight ticket was averaging around $380 round trip as of Thursday, with the price increasing $15 or more per day until the holiday, according to Berg.

“If you have not booked your Thanksgiving travel, you should book it today — right now — because prices are only going to increase from here,” Berg said.

Holiday travel prices are climbing high. Here’s how to save money.

Few deals remain, but if you’re looking for a last-minute getaway , flights to Atlanta are averaging around $100 and warm-weather destinations like Cancún, Mexico and Puerto Rico are around $400, she said. Travelers might also be able to score a cheap last-minute flight to Las Vegas and Nashville, where prices are averaging $321 and $345, respectively, according to Kayak.

On the hotel side, travelers might actually be able to benefit from waiting to book until the day they arrive, when hotels drop their rates as much as 25 percent to compete for the last-minute bookings, Berg noted. These deals are usually found in major cities with large hotel inventories, except for New York (because of its Thanksgiving parade) and leisure destinations like Miami.

“Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver — pretty much any city that has a lot of hotel options, you’re going to see last minute deals,” Berg said.

It’s cheaper to travel early next year

Your money will go much further if you sit out holiday travel and book a trip for early in 2023.

Hopper, along with 75 airline and hotel partners, will host its annual Travel Deal Tuesday sale on Nov. 29, which will see 50 percent more deals than the average day, according to the company. On that day, average domestic airfare will be about $50 cheaper and international flights will drop by $160, and Hopper adds additional promotional discounts, Berg said.

Travelers staying home for the holidays should consider booking their travel for mid-January, when domestic flights will be 28 percent cheaper and international flights will be 25 percent cheaper, according to Kayak.

“Those are very significant step downs that are worth waiting for,” Bueller said.

More spring travel tips

Trends: Cheaper spring break | Cool all-inclusives | Let ChatGPT plan your day | Is it safe to go to Mexico? | Book a free night in Sicily

The basics: Tip without cash | Traveling with kids | Decide where to stay | A pre-trip checklist of house chores | How to get your passport | Plan a ski trip | Eat without feeling terrible | Budget for your next trip | Plan a cheaper Disney trip

Flying: Fly like a decent human being | How to set airfare price alerts | Flying with an injury | PreCheck vs. Global Entry vs. CLEAR | Can I fly with weed? | AirTag your luggage | Airport parking 101 | Deal with airport crowds | Why Stalk airfare after booking

Driving: 9 tips for road tripping with a baby | Try the Airbnb of rental cars | Rent an EV | Do I need an international license to drive abroad? | Avoid big rental car fees

Greener travel: Bike to the airport | How environmentalists travel | How to find ‘greener’ flights | Make your travel better for the planet

Pets: How to travel with pets | Why the pet fee? | Pet flying 101 | Alternatives to flying with your pet

In case of emergency: Manage airport disasters | Your flight is canceled | How to get a human on the phone | What to do if your car gets stuck | Find your lost luggage | How to get a refund for a canceled flight | Deal with a bad hotel room | When you’re bumped off your flight | If you get rebooked without your family | What are my rebooking rights? | Recover a lost item at TSA, the airport or your flight

travel on thanksgiving day

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Flying for Thanksgiving? Expect packed planes, unruly passengers and cancellations

David Schaper

travel on thanksgiving day

Unclaimed baggage wells up between carousels for passengers arriving on Southwest Airlines flights at Denver International Airport late Sunday, Oct. 10, in Denver. David Zalubowski/AP hide caption

Unclaimed baggage wells up between carousels for passengers arriving on Southwest Airlines flights at Denver International Airport late Sunday, Oct. 10, in Denver.

A year ago, many of us stayed home or went to small gatherings for turkey, stuffing and Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish , but this year, the wide availability of coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. is making more people feel comfortable flying longer distances for Thanksgiving.

If you're among them, brace yourself for long lines in crowded airports and jam packed flights, because the early pandemic days of half-empty planes are long gone.

"We're seeing a lot of people very much, you know, looking to travel and fly for Thanksgiving this year and make up for maybe staying at home last year," says Vivek Pandya, lead analyst for Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks airline booking data.

As of Nov. 7, bookings for Thanksgiving week flights are up 78% over last year, and they're even slightly ahead of 2019, up 3.2% from pre-pandemic levels.

"There's excitement around potentially, you know, being with family and friends for Thanksgiving again. So that's, you know, pushing up bookings, you know, pretty sizably there," Pandya says.

But Pandya says as bookings rise, so do prices.

"We are seeing flight ticket prices increase because we're seeing this high demand for Thanksgiving," Pandya says, as air fares are up significantly from last year's pandemic bargains.

Higher fuel prices are contributing to higher fares, too, with the price of crude oil rising 66% this year.

American Airlines plane is diverted after a passenger assaults a flight attendant

Coronavirus Updates

American airlines plane is diverted after a passenger assaults a flight attendant.

travel on thanksgiving day

Passengers line up outside the Spirit Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Spirit Airlines canceled more than half its schedule Tuesday, and American Airlines struggled to recover from weekend storms at its Texas home, stranding thousands of passengers at the height of the summer travel season. Eugene Garcia/AP hide caption

Passengers line up outside the Spirit Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Spirit Airlines canceled more than half its schedule Tuesday, and American Airlines struggled to recover from weekend storms at its Texas home, stranding thousands of passengers at the height of the summer travel season.

Airlines have had operational meltdowns that forced delays and cancellation of thousands of flights

In recent months, some airlines have had trouble handling the rapid recovery in air travel demand. Southwest , Spirit and American have all had operational meltdowns that forced them to delay and cancel thousands of flights.

Some of those delays and cancellations were initially caused by bad weather, but the airlines' staffing levels were stretched too thin and "problems snowballed" as they had too few pilots and flight attendants available to catch up and recover, says Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot who is now with the flight tracking firm FlightAware. And she notes that now, winter is coming.

"And so what's going to be interesting is to see what are the airlines going to do to handle not only this huge influx of capacity of passengers that are going to be wanting to travel starting out with the Thanksgiving season, but what's going to happen when we have a major weather system impact? Are we going to see another meltdown?"

Bangs says airlines cannot overpromise by adding too many flights to meet the increased holiday travel demand, they and then underdeliver by having too few pilots, flight attendants and other employees to run their operations smoothly when the inevitable bad winter weather hits.

"Because it's one thing to have a meltdown at the end of October," Bangs says. "But it's another thing completely if you ruin somebody's Thanksgiving or Christmas or make them miss it altogether. That is on a whole other level."

American Airlines , which had the most recent operational meltdown last month, says on Nov. 1, it has brought back 1,800 flight attendants who had been on leave, and another 600 new hires come on board Dec. 1.

In addition, the airline and its flight attendants union negotiated for bonus pay of 150% their normal rate to flight attendants who work at critical times over the holiday season, and up to triple pay, 300%, to flight attendants who don't call in sick at all over certain critical periods in November, December and into January.

But American's pilots union rejected the airline's offer of a similar boost in pay to work holiday season flights, saying pilots would rather focus on "meaningful permanent improvements in a new collective bargaining agreement."

travel on thanksgiving day

An American Airlines plane grounded at O'Hare International Airport. Chicago in April. David Schaper/NPR hide caption

An American Airlines plane grounded at O'Hare International Airport. Chicago in April.

Flight attendants are mentally and physically exhausted and continue to face abuse from passengers

American Airlines flight attendant Paul Hartshorn, Jr., spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, says the bump in pay is well deserved.

"It's been a really difficult almost two years now for our flight attendants, it's just been one hit after another and they are mentally and physically exhausted at times," he told NPR, noting that he and his colleagues continue to face a high number of incidents of verbal and physical abuse on flights.

"We've had flight attendants shoved, punched, pushed to the floor and hit their head on the armrest on the way down. Really, really serious injuries that we're dealing with here."

On one recent flight , he says a passenger repeatedly punched a flight attendant in the face, breaking her nose and other facial bones. That passenger was arrested and charged by federal authorities as the FAA is now increasingly referring these cases to the FBI and Department of Justice for prosecution.

The FAA has now received more than 5,100 reports of unruly passenger incidents since January, and agency data show that almost three in four incidents involve passengers refusing to wear masks.

On Wednesday, the FAA announced it was proposing fines ranging from $9,000 to $32,000 on 10 passengers for incidents of unruly behavior on flights, including assault.

"Look, the masks are here for the holiday season," Hartshorn says. "It's incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to socially distance onboard an aircraft. And we have a lot of passengers that don't have access to the vaccine, we have children who are just now gaining access to the vaccine."

There could be a possible shortage of TSA officers to work at security checkpoints

Another potential problem for Thanksgiving air travelers is long lines at airport security checkpoints, as there could be a possible shortage of TSA officers to work those checkpoints.

Like all federal government employees, TSA workers face a Nov. 22 deadline for being fully vaccinated. As of last month, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said about 40% of the agency's 65,000 employees had not yet reported their vaccination status.

Officials say they expect the actual number of unvaccinated officers will be low, adding that those who do not comply with the mandate will be be able to work, while going through a process of vaccine education and counseling, so they don't expect having any staffing shortages over the holiday season.

"We're keeping an eye on this. Our goal is always to protect passengers, get them to their destination safely, and we'll know more when we get closer to the deadline," says Chicago-based TSA spokesperson Jessica Mayle. "Right now, we're just focused on encouraging all employees to get vaccinated and collecting that information from them as they do it."

Mayle also says the TSA says it is staffing up in preparation for the holidays to try to minimize long lines at security checkpoints.

"We've been hiring all year, we've hired more than 6,000 officers across the country this year," she says.

"We have local teams on the ground (at airports) across the country ... They definitely know the times of day, the flight patterns, the passenger patterns that they see and they keep their staffing level appropriate so that you don't see wait lines beyond what we can (normally) expect."

But with many people possibly flying for the first time in a long time, Mayle advises travelers to plan ahead and not bring any prohibited items in carry-on bags, and she advises travelers to arrive at the airport two hours before their flight's departure time.

  • Thanksgiving travel
  • International

America travels for Thanksgiving 2022

By Adrienne Vogt , Dakin Andone and Amir Vera , CNN

Here's how highways and airports are looking across the US

From CNN's Amir Vera and Austin Steele

More than 54 million people were expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving,  according to AAA .

The agency said the worst time for road travel Wednesday was between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET.

As one of the busiest travel days since 2019 comes to close, here's a look at highways and airports across the US:

Travelers navigate a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport on Tuesday, November 22.

To see more photos from Thanksgiving week, click here .

TSA provides tips ahead of the busiest travel season since 2019 (And yes, you can pack pie in your carry on)

From CNN's Amir Vera

This Thanksgiving is expected to be the third busiest since AAA started tracking travel volume in 2000 and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has provided some tips to travelers during this extremely busy season:

TSA says you're allowed to bring food in your carry-on.

TSA says be sure to have your ID and know the different options you have for identification.

TSA says remove items from your pockets before the security process begins and place them in your carry-on.

Busiest airports in the US brace for influx of travelers

With AAA expecting air traveler volume to be about 99% of the 2019 volume, some of the busiest airports in the US are preparing for the influx of travelers.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport says its expecting 2.5 million passengers and recommends travelers to arrive two to three hours prior to boarding.

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago strongly recommends passengers over the age of 2 to wear masks.

Los Angeles International Airport is reminding travelers they can reserve parking ahead of their flights.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport knows traveling can be hectic — especially with kids — so they've assembled and dispersed ambassadors to hand out coloring books.

And Denver international Airport provided a time lapse of the more than 75,000 passengers they're expecting Thursday.

Some of the heaviest holiday traffic is likely happening now. Here's what it looks like near DC.

CNN's Pete Muntean is in traffic on Interstate 95 near Dumfries, Virginia, as holiday travel picks up on the road.

"This is the linchpin. This is where it typically gets bad. We have been in stop-and-go traffic for the last few miles now. This goes for about another 20 miles. We are in the thick of it," he said.

In some major cities, "the congestion today will be twice the worst congestion on a normal day," he added.

Over 54 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA . The worst time for road travel today is estimated from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Watch his report here:

Airline passengers are spreading out their travel dates this Thanksgiving, Frontier CEO says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Travelers walk in Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on November 23.

Barry Biffle, the CEO of Frontier Airlines, said holiday airline travel is more spread out this year — with people flying out earlier and returning later than in previous years.

“The season is actually more elongated,” he told CNN Wednesday. “We started seeing outbound travel for Thanksgiving start last Thursday, actually, and we're seeing the returns spread into next week. It's kind of flattening out that demand.”

He said this allows more people to travel this year and has been helping airlines keep up with demand, especially in the midst of staffing shortages and canceled flights as the industry recovers from the pandemic.

Flight issues reached their peak this summer when the federal government saw a spike in complaints from angry airline passengers in August.

The Department of Transportation said it received more than 7,000 complaints from flyers , a 6% increase compared with July and a 320% increase compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Biffle said he thinks most of those issues that frustrated travelers this summer have been worked out now, just in time for the holidays.

“The industry did have some challenges, but you know, our perception is that pretty much everyone has gotten the staffing challenges behind them now,” he said.

Even though gas prices are dipping, traffic jams could cost you. Here's how to save money on gas.

Heavy traffic moves along Interstate 395in Washington, DC. on November 22.

Drivers will feel a bit less of a pinch at the pump for Thanksgiving this week, but gas prices are still averaging higher than last year at this time, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"The national average now just under $3.59 in the latest live data we have," De Haan told CNN's Jim Sciutto. "Prices up 17 cents from last year, but more importantly, as we progress into Thanksgiving, prices have plummeted 15 cents a gallon in the last week, with several states seeing decreases in excess of 20 cents a gallon over the last week. So a pretty big decline, but overall, Thanksgiving is still relatively pricey compared to where we've been in prior years." 

De Haan has some tips on saving gas as you make your way to your Thanksgiving destination:

"Certainly, if you're on the road for more than, say, a couple hours, use that cruise control, maybe throttle it back a mile an hour or two. That could help save you the equivalent of 35 to 50 cents a gallon. Anyone crossing a state line should be hyper sensitive to the fact that gas prices can change significantly," he said.  

"Shop around," he added. "...Don't be in a rush to fill your tank. Prices will continue coming down at a pretty brisk pace. If you're staying closer to home, don't feel the need to go pounce on gas prices falling. It's going to get better yet." 

Air travel is running fairly smoothly so far, with just a handful of cancellations

From CNN's Pete Muntean, Ross Levitt, Dave Hennen and Dakin Andone

Thanks to good weather, airlines have had to cancel very few flights today so far, with just 34 cancelled flights within, into and out of the US as of late Wednesday morning, according to data from flight tracking site FlightAware .

United Airlines — which expects to serve 500,000 passengers a day over the Thanksgiving travel period — had zero flight cancellations network-wide on Tuesday, it told CNN, including mainline and United Express flights, a remarkable figure given the holiday rush.

Sunday, however, could be more challenging, with widespread rain predicted for the Great Lakes and the Northeast.

The Federal Aviation Administration expects Wednesday to be the busiest travel day of the holiday so far by passenger volume, with 45,000 flights scheduled.

In its daily report , the FAA said that "heavy traffic is expected across the country."

"Delays from low clouds are possible in Dallas-Fort Worth (DAL, DFW), Miami (MIA) and Seattle (SEA). High winds could slow flights in the New York area (EWR, JFK, LGA)," according to the FAA.

The Transportation Security Administration said nearly 2.3 million passengers were screened at its checkpoints on Tuesday, a volume similar to what the agency saw Sunday and Monday.

Yes, your travel will likely cost more this holiday season

From CNN's Chris Isidore

 A person prepares to pump gas at a gas station in Brooklyn, New York, on October 19, 2022.

For travelers getting ready to make their first holiday trips since before the pandemic: prepare for sticker shock .

Airfares are way up . US  gas prices  are higher than they’ve ever been at this time of year. Rates for hotel rooms and rental cars have jumped 12% and 46% respectively from where they were in 2019.

The good news is that the prices for airfares, gas and hotel rooms are down from the record highs hit earlier in 2022, but they’re still among the highest on record for this time of year. Only rental car prices are lower than what travelers were paying at the end of last year, although they’re still far above pre-pandemic levels.

Airfare : Data from aviation analytics firm Cirium shows the number of flights scheduled for November and December is down 15% from the same months in 2019. Many of those missing flights previously were flown by smaller regional carriers serving smaller airports, and some of those airports have since  lost service altogether . But even with a greater percentage of flights on larger planes, the number of seats available is down 3.5% compared to that same period in 2019.

A surge in Covid-19 cases at the end of 2021 depressed demand for leisure travel, but this year it’s positively robust, according to the airlines and industry experts.

“Holiday travel has come back as strong as ever, and leisure travel is why that recovered,” said Scott Keyes, founder of travel site Scott’s Cheap Flights. “So many people wanted to travel over Labor Day and July 4, and as we’re going to see pretty soon, over Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

And that combination — strong demand and a tight supply of seats — means high fares.

Gas prices : The good news is that price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is well below the $5.02 record hit in June. AAA reports that the average as of Sunday stood at $4.67, down 27%. And prices continue to fall — the average price is down 11 cents a gallon in just the last week.

But prices are still 8% higher than this time last year. The price of gas is typically at its seasonal low at the end of the year, frequently just before Christmas.

Hotels : Hotel prices also are more expensive than they’ve ever been this time of year. The Consumer Price Index, the government’s key inflation gauge, shows the cost of lodging away from home hit a record in May, and the October average, the most recent available, is down just 2% from that peak.

Rental cars : Rental car companies  slashed their fleets  during the early months of the pandemic, selling the cars they had to raise cash. With automakers still not back to full production due to a shortage of parts  needed to build cars , including computer chips, it’s taken a while for the rental car companies to replenish their fleets to meet demand. The good news is that October CPI data shows car rental prices are down 3.5% from where they stood in October of last year, and down 15% from the  record set in June 2021 . Still, rental cars are 46% more expensive than they were in October 2019.

3 million people are expected to line Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

The SpongeBob SquarePants balloon floats during the 95th-annual Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on on November 25, 2021.

Organizers of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City expect about three million spectators to line the parade's route Thursday as balloons, floats and marching bands make their way from the Upper West Side to Macy's flagship store at Herald Square.

That's about half a million more people than organizers expected last year. In 2020, the parade was a TV-only event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, the parade — a tradition that dates back to 1924 — will feature 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 12 marching bands, 700 clowns, a host of musical stars and Santa Claus, organizers say.

If you want to get a jump on the big event, you can watch the balloons being inflated Wednesday afternoon, from noon to 6 p.m. ET, on the Upper West Side at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue.

The parade is set to step off on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, at 8:45 a.m. ET with TV coverage from 9 a.m. to noon.

And all the festivities come with road closures, of course.

"Heavy traffic conditions are expected, and there will be rolling street closures in Manhattan, so mass transit is strongly encouraged," according to the NYPD.

Find a list of affected routes on Wednesday and Thursday here .

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Watch CBS News

Traffic, weather — what's ahead for travelers during Thanksgiving 2023

By Allison Elyse Gualtieri , Kathryn Krupnik

Updated on: November 22, 2023 / 8:48 PM EST / CBS News

More people travel for Thanksgiving than any other U.S. holiday, and they get on the road or board planes starting nearly a week ahead of time. Friday — Nov. 17 this year — is generally regarded as the start of the holiday travel season, which stretches to the Tuesday following the holiday, Nov. 28 this year.

It's already been a record year for travel: The Transportation Security Administration saw seven of the 10 busiest days in its history in 2023, said then-Administrator David Pekoske. The TSA expects to screen more than 30 million travelers over the period, according to a news release, noting the three busiest days have historically been the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after.

And don't expect a reprieve on the roads — most Americans will get to their holiday destination by automobile. More than 55 million people are expected to head at least 50 miles to their Thanksgiving destination between Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 26, and more than 49 million of them will drive, according to AAA . The organization predicts this year will see the third-highest travel numbers for the holiday stretch since 2000, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels. 

But all that travel could be complicated by the week's weather . Some parts of the country are seeing storms, including rain in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast during some of the heaviest travel times. 

Here's what to expect — and when.

The day before Thanksgiving: Wednesday, Nov. 22

If you're traveling the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you'll have a lot of company. The Federal Aviation Administration says that's the day the most flights are scheduled — 49,606 of them in the U.S., to be exact.

Oh, my gourd, Thanksgiving is here! We’re forecasting a peak of 49,606 flights on Wednesday, November 22. If you’re flying somewhere, we hope your flight is gravy. Carve out some time to fill up on tips to help you prepare at https://t.co/PKpvH0f8D2 . #Thanksgiving2023 🦃 ✈️ pic.twitter.com/Mj9bnuWoSy — The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) November 13, 2023

The TSA expects to screen 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday, and trade group Airlines for America says it will be the second-busiest day of the holiday period for flyers.

Wednesday is also the day the most drivers will be hitting the road, according to AAA , citing data from transportation data company Inrix. If you're loading up the car that day, try to get moving before 11 a.m., the group said — the busiest time for auto travelers will be between 2–6 p.m.

"The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros," said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. "Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications and 511 services for real-time updates."

Some areas of New England were hit with snow that will turn to rain, potentially affecting Wednesday morning travelers, CBS Boston reports . Tuesday's rain was causing headaches Wednesday morning in the New York area, as some highways flooded, according to CBS New York . Heavy rain was expected to continue into the morning.

Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23 and Black Friday, Nov. 24

Thanksgiving itself is one of the easier days to travel over the holiday stretch: Airlines for America pegs it as the lightest travel day of the period for flyers. If you're planning to drive, AAA recommends doing so before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m., with the busiest time on the roads expected to be between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

And while the FAA forecasts more flights on Friday than Saturday — 44,744, nearly as many as Sunday, versus 41,640 on Saturday — Airlines for America projects Saturday will be the fifth busiest of the Thanksgiving stretch.

If you're planning to hit early brick-and-mortar Black Friday sales at your holiday destination, give yourself a break before getting back on the road for home. INRIX says the most congested times to drive will be between 12–4 p.m., and roads will be less crowded before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25, Sunday, Nov. 26 and Monday, Nov. 27

Nearly 42,000 flights are scheduled for Saturday and almost 45,000 on Sunday, according to the FAA. Overall, Airlines for America said to expect Sunday to be the busiest travel day, with more than 3.2 million passengers flying. 

That's an expectation shared by the TSA, which anticipates 2.9 million airline passengers will be screened Sunday, Nov. 26, according to the TSA. United Airlines also announced Sunday will be one of the company's busiest travel days since before the pandemic. More than 517,000 people are expected to fly on a United flight that day, according to a news release from the company, 60,000 more than last year.

While data company Cirium projects Sunday to be the biggest travel day of the year, passengers will still be making their way on Monday — according to AAA, "While Sunday is typically the busiest day to return home, AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving."

American Airlines said Sunday will be its busiest travel day and Monday the second busiest with 6,100 and 6,000 departures, respectively. Delta said it expects peak travel days over the period will include Sunday and Monday, and Airlines for America said the two days will be the first and third busiest, respectively, for air travel during the Thanksgiving travel period.

And if you're hauling dinner supplies to Thanksgiving or leftovers home afterward , the TSA said to be prepared for likely additional screening if you have food in your carry-on and know what needs to go in a checked bag instead.

"If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it's larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag," the TSA said on its website. "If you need to keep items cold during your trip, ice packs are permissible, but they must be frozen solid and not melted when they go through security screening."

Pie, turkey and stuffing can be carried on, the TSA noted, but cranberry sauce, gravy and wine have to be checked. And if you are carrying on, the agency recommends packing them so they're easy to take out of your bag and putting them in a bin for screening when it's your turn at the checkpoint.

  • Transportation Security Administration
  • Thanksgiving

Allison Elyse Gualtieri is a senior news editor for CBSNews.com, working on a wide variety of subjects including crime, longer-form features and feel-good news. She previously worked for the Washington Examiner and U.S. News and World Report, among other outlets.

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When is thanksgiving 2023, when is the busiest travel day for thanksgiving, 1. a phone mount that'll help you keep your eyes on the road.

Product image of iOttie Easy One Touch 5 Dashboard & Windshield Universal Car Mount Phone Holder

Keep your eyes on the road with a phone mount.

2. A reusable water bottle for ice-cold water all day long

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Our favorite water bottle is convenient to use on the road.

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Your kids can stay happy and hydrated during the ride, too.

3. A screen-free game to keep the kids entertained

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Keep your kids entertained with this game.

4. A snack and beverage cooler to avoid hanger

The contents of this cooler can stay below 40 °F for six and a half hours, the exterior of the bag is crush-resistant thanks to its padding, and nothing will spill out thanks to the cooler’s leak-proof construction.

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Store your road snacks in one of our favorite lunch coolers.

5. A neck pillow for naps along the way

Anyone can benefit from a nap on the road (well, except for the driver). To avoid any kinks in your neck or back, a neck pillow can make it easier and more comfortable to fall asleep in the car.

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Keep your neck comfortable with our favorite travel pillow.

6. Audiobooks for all-day entertainment

7. a car charger to keep devices powered up.

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This charger can charge a smartphone in a little over an hour.

8. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to stay clean

During your road trip, you'll probably be handling high-touch surfaces like gas pumps and rest-stop doors, so we recommend keeping hand sanitizer in the car during your journey. And you can always use them when you arrive at your destination, too.

Product image of Purell Pump Bottle Hand Sanitizer 8 oz. Bottle

Keep germs at bay with hand sanitizer.

9. A combination snow brush and ice scraper to keep your windshield clear

Snowfall makes for a magical holiday moment—except for when you have to drive through it. Don't be caught without a snowbrush and an ice scraper along your journey. This reviewer-loved snow brush and ice scraper will do just the trick with sturdy bristles to remove heavy snow and a 4-inch wide blade to break through and clear ice. It also features a thick foam grip, making it easy to handle in cold and wet conditions.

Product image of Mallory USA Mallory 532 Cool-Force 26” Snowbrush with Ice Scraper

With this snow brush/ice scraper, you'll be prepared if snow falls.

10. A portable snow shovel for combatting heavier snowfall

Product image of 41.3 in. Shovelution Strain-Reducing Snow Shovel

Keep this shovel in your trunk in case you need to move snow from around your car.

11. A cozy blanket to snuggle up in

Product image of Bedsure Fleece Blanket Throw Blanket

Stay warm in the car with this throw blanket.

12. Window shades to block the glare of the sun

Product image of Enovoe Car Window Shades

These shades will keep the sun out of your eyes and protect you from harmful UV rays.

13. A car headrest mount for backseat movie marathons

Amazon reviewers say this mount holder is the perfect setup for kids, noting it's easy to install and can be used for front-facing riders or car seat-bound children facing the rear of the car.

Product image of Macally Car Headrest Mount

Another way to keep backseat passengers entertained is to play a movie on a tablet.

14. A car organizer to keep the car clean

If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you know just how cluttered the car can get. Between car chargers, coolers, blankets and toys, we recommend something like these Uleeka backseat organizers. With tons of pockets, these organizers will keep your car in tip-top shape throughout the journey.

These organizers are easy to install—just slip them right over the front-seat headrests. Reviewers say the product feels high-quality and is well-made, so it'll last for months, or even years, of everyday use.

Product image of ULEEKA Car Backseat Organizer

A car backseat organizer will keep clutter to a minimum.

15. A combination jump-starter to be prepared for emergencies

This top-rated car tool works as a jumper, a battery pack for charging electronics, and an LED flashlight that features an emergency strobe all in one. With nearly 75,000 5-star reviews, the ultra-compact pack is a must-have for your car’s glovebox, because you never know when you’ll need it.

Product image of NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000A UltraSafe Car Battery Jump Starter

Expect the unexpected and keep a jumper in your car.

16. A first aid kit just in case

If you haven’t already, we recommend adding a first aid kit to your stock of emergency supplies that you keep in the car—and always keeping it in there.

Product image of First Aid Kit

This first aid kit features all the essentials in a compact package.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  • thanksgiving

Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

Some airlines are expecting their busiest Thanksgiving ever.

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As Thanksgiving approaches, millions of Americans are gearing up to hit the highway or head to the airport -- and some airlines are expecting their busiest Thanksgiving ever .

Here's what you need to know:

Thanksgiving travel by air

AAA projects 4.7 million travelers will fly over Thanksgiving -- a 6.6% increase from last year. This would mark the highest number of people flying for Thanksgiving since 2005.

The busiest and most expensive days to fly before Thanksgiving will be Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to AAA.

The best day to go to the airport for Thanksgiving is Monday, Nov. 20, when flights will be 12% cheaper than on Nov. 22, according to Expedia.

travel on thanksgiving day

The Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen 30 million passengers during its Thanksgiving travel period, which runs from Nov. 17 to Nov. 28.

"We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA's history," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. "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. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes."

The most popular domestic destinations for Thanksgiving this year are New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida, according to Hopper. Internationally, the most popular cities are London, Tokyo and Paris.

The cheapest days to return home will be Friday, Nov. 24, or Monday, Nov. 27, according to Hopper.

travel on thanksgiving day

United Airlines said it expects to have its busiest Thanksgiving ever, with over 5.9 million passengers -- a 13% increase from last year.

United anticipates that Sunday, Nov. 26, will be one of its busiest days since before the pandemic, with more than 517,000 people expected to fly.

Due to remote work, United said its holiday travel period has extended. United said the demand for flying the Monday before Thanksgiving is up nearly 10% from 2019, while demand for flying the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is only up 3%.

American Airlines said it predicts a record 7.8 million passengers over Thanksgiving.

travel on thanksgiving day

American said Sunday, Nov. 26, and Monday, Nov. 27, will be its busiest days.

"I think the best tip we can offer is to ask everyone to arrive early for your flights," said John Busch, TSA's federal security director at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. "Recommendation is always two hours before a domestic flight, three hours before an international flight."

Thanksgiving travel by road

AAA projects that 55.4 million people will drive 50 miles or farther from home for Thanksgiving -- a 2.3% increase from last year. This marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

The busiest day on the roads is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to transportation analytics company INRIX. Drivers should leave home in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest traffic, INRIX said.

On Sunday, Nov. 26, the worst traffic is forecast to be between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The best time to hit the road will be before noon, according to INRIX.

travel on thanksgiving day

Americans are on pace for record setting holiday travel this season , and while all the major airlines say they're ready, passengers don't want a repeat of last year.

Airlines and airports across the U.S. have started to brace for what's expected to be the busiest holiday travel rush ever.

Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, formerly known as Air Transport Association of America, told "Good Morning America" that "this is shaping up to be a record setting year."

The Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen 30 million passengers between Nov. 17-27, or approximately 2.7 million passengers per day, up 10% from the same time last year.

Over the holiday travel rush last year, there were widespread flight cancellations and massive meltdowns that left thousands stranded.

MORE: Historic holiday travel season in the air and on the roads: AAA

So far this year, cancellations have dropped dramatically, down to just 1.6% of flights. But delays have ticked up to their highest level in a decade, affecting around 1 in 5 flights, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which has been largely led by discount airlines such as JetBlue, Frontier, and Spirit.

Consumer complaints about airlines have also soared, with nearly double the amount in the first three months of 2023, compared to the same time last year, according to the Department of Transportation.

Another concern bubbling up ahead of the holidays is a shortage of air traffic controllers. Last week on Capitol Hill, the lead investigator of the National Transportation Safety Board partially blamed the shortage for 23 close calls this year, where planes nearly collided on takeoff or landing.

"While these events are incredibly rare, our safety system is showing clear signs of strain that we cannot ignore," Jennifer Homendy, chair of the NTSB, said in a statement at the time.

David Seymour, COO of American Airlines, told ABC News this week, "We certainly need to see more air traffic controllers in place. We're managing through the events on good days like we're having today -- we just have to be mindful that when weather hits certain parts of the country, there are going to be constraints."

Still, with the holidays looming, airlines believe they're ready and have hired on tens of thousands of new employees.

American Airlines has both expanded its schedule for the busy holiday period and enlisted larger planes to handle the high volume of travelers.

"We're going to carry more customers than we ever have before, about a half a million more than last year," Seymour said.

United has also added more than 550,000 seats to meet the increased demand of the holidays.

"My No. 1 recommendation to people would be pray for good weather. That is always the key," Calio told "GMA." "Get to the airport early. If you don't have your airlines app, get it, because you get constant notifications about your gate, any delay, any type of cancellation or anything like that."

While each airline is different, if passengers do run into issues this season, the DOT has a dashboard where travelers can read what each airline will give you if the delay or cancellation is their fault.

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Spring Sunshine

WEATHER ON REPEAT

Tuesday will look very much like Monday. We will have a full day of sunshine with temperatures in the 60s. Some towns will eclipse 70, while some coastal towns will stay in the 50s. Winds shift to the northeast Wednesday. So, while most will repeat the sunshine and 60s, it’ll be cooler at the coast for sure. At least it’ll stay dry!

NEXT SHOWER THREAT, NOT LIKE THE LAST THREAT

A warm front will approach Thursday bringing clouds, showers, and drizzle to the region. It’ll be cooler with the marine air taking over. There is a better chance for organized showers in the afternoon, but it will not be an all-day or heavy rain.

More showers are coming later on Friday into early Saturday. Again, not another big storm like in past weeks.

Signs point to a decent weekend, too!

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Going on a holiday needn’t be a fraught experience …

The experts: travel agents on 20 ways to book a sustainable and sensational summer holiday

Keen to get away? Here is how to find a great deal, pick the perfect destination and support the local community

A holiday should be relaxing, but booking one can be a fraught experience, with days lost to endless scrolling, comparing reviews and prices. How can you be sure you are getting a good deal? Travel agents share their tips for the most affordable, sustainable and memorable trips.

1. Book like an agent

“Everybody views themselves as a travel agent and they can be up to a point,” says Paul Sharp from Newcastle upon Tyne, who operates as part of the Travel Counsellors network and has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He says the rise of budget airlines and online booking have led to people feeling confident about organising trips themselves. What is the one thing we should know when doing so? “It is a false economy to book things separately because you have no protection,” Sharp says. He gives the example of someone planning a trip to South Africa to watch rugby, who booked flights with the airline and hotels directly and rugby tickets elsewhere. The game was cancelled but the flights and hotel were non-refundable. If they had been booked together, the trip would have been covered under package travel regulations. “Book with a company you trust and know – there are a lot of sites that crop up and you don’t really know their provenance,” he says.

2. Be an early bird

“Planning in advance is always going to be better value,” says Helen Youngman , an independent travel agent and partner at 360 Private Travel , based near Norwich. “Late deals do exist, but a lot of hotels use ‘dynamic pricing’, which means prices increase as availability goes down. Flights are only going to increase in price the closer you get to the departure date because the fuller the flight gets, the more expensive it will be.” Sharp adds: “Don’t hang on for a last-minute deal because you could end up disappointed. Scheduled flights tend to be available about 11 months in advance, so that is the best time to book. Also, at that stage, a lot of hotels and accommodation providers will have early-bird specials.”

3. If you do book late, be flexible

Be open-minded …

Jessica Bollinger, who works in the Bristol branch of Danish travel agent Kilroy , which specialises in youth and adventure holidays, agrees that late deals are now something of a myth. “They are not unheard of, but with a last-minute deal there are certain things you’re not going to get. So you have to be really open-minded as to where you’re going to go,” she says.

4. Avoid peak season

The cheapest time to travel is always outside the school holidays, says Youngman, with Christmas and new year the most expensive times. Can you get a good deal if you fly on Christmas or New Year’s Day itself? Sometimes, she says, “but a lot of people are catching on to that trick”. If you have to go in the school holidays, be open to going somewhere off the beaten track. “Being clever about destinations is a good plan,” says Youngman. “In Europe, look farther east at places such as Montenegro, Albania and Georgia. And Morocco is a good summer destination for families.”

5. Midweek can be more affordable

“Midweek can be cheaper, it just depends on availability,” says Youngman. “A Thursday to Monday trip is going to be slightly more expensive than Monday to Friday, but all travel fares are based on availability, so the further in advance you can book, the better.”

6. Take out travel insurance when you book

A lot of people sort out their insurance at the airport, says Sharp, but it is best to do it as soon as you have booked your trip. He says: “Travel insurance doesn’t just cover you if you lose a bag or are poorly while you are away. It also covers you should you need to cancel for an insurable reason before you travel.” This includes illness or a bereavement.

7. On solo trips, consider a group tour

‘Some companies offer specialist female-only tours.’

If you are travelling alone, “pretty much anywhere is possible”, says Youngman. “Embarking on your first solo trip can be daunting, which is why small group tours are an amazing way to travel with like-minded people. Some companies I work with are doing specialist female-only tours with visits to female entrepreneurs, co-operatives, makers and bakers. Small group tours are great because they handle all the logistics, include really immersive experiences and are safe. They pick you up from the airport, and from that point onwards, you’re travelling with other people and you’ve got an expert guide.”

8. Have a daily budget

“We advise setting a daily limit for yourself while travelling and then multiplying that number by the days you are away to get the amount to save for your spending money,” says Bollinger. “When you work it out like this, it makes a lot more sense in people’s minds, especially young people who don’t have much budgeting experience. It also keeps you accountable to yourself, so you don’t blow everything right at the beginning and then have nothing left for the end.” To stick to a tight budget, she says: “Cook food as you go along and use public transport instead of tourist buses – this will really help you save money.”

9. Consider all-inclusive options

“If you are going to spend a lot of time eating and drinking in the hotel, I recommend upgrading to an all-inclusive option if possible,” says Youngman, “especially if you’d like a cocktail or two and you’re grazing throughout the day. Otherwise it can all add up and when you check out it costs a fortune.” With active holidays such as skiing or safaris, she adds: “If you have the option to choose an all-inclusive package that includes the activities, food and drink, that is usually a more cost-effective way of travelling. Because sometimes they will really sting you on the extras and it will be more expensive.”

10. Work your way around the world

“A working holiday is a great way to fund your trip,” says Bollinger, who helps people book travel to Australia, New Zealand and Canada by organising working holidays so they can extend their stay. “A lot of jobs will be hospitality-related, but if you go to a more rural spot you can do farm work, and if you have qualifications already, sometimes those can be used. Working holidays in Canada are often at ski resorts near Vancouver, so you get the added benefit of being in a beautiful place to take advantage of the winter sports.”

11. Travel as sustainably as possible

‘By travelling sustainably, you have more time to absorb the culture surrounding you.’

“You can get to most places in Europe by train , so if you are open to slowing down and having a more relaxed itinerary, not only are you travelling more sustainably, but you have more time to absorb the culture surrounding you,” says Youngman. “Be good to the environment you are travelling to see.” She stresses the importance of limiting flights as much as possible, especially internally, and avoiding indirect long-haul options. “We highly recommend ‘open-jaw flights’, which means you fly into one destination and out of another, to limit the number of flights,” says Bollinger. “We also promote travelling for longer in one destination as opposed to trying to go to many in a short time, and travelling overland when possible, instead of taking multiple flights.”

12. Offset carbon emissions with a reputable company

When considering carbon from flights, says Thomas Power of Pura Aventura , a B Corp sustainable travel company in Brighton: “Don’t believe the airline schemes, or anyone else who promises you absolution for a few quid. While 85% of offset schemes may be worthless, there are high-quality carbon credits starting at about £20 a tonne.” These can be bought to compensate for CO 2 emissions. Companies such as “ C Level ​ ​help you at least take positive action to balance your impact”, says Power.

13. Think of responsible travel as a ‘fair exchange’

When travelling, says Power, consider: “What are we giving and what are we receiving? Is it a fair exchange? Is somebody getting something in return for what I am receiving in this transaction?” This applies to everything from “taking a cruise to Venice and not giving anything to the city, to going camping in Sussex and getting a supermarket delivery to your tent instead of going to the village shop or buying eggs from the house down the road”. This concept of “fair exchange” can be beneficial for everyone, he says, by giving you access to unique experiences. “In terms of the economy, the less money that leaves the village, town or city, the better,” he says.

14. Embrace the great outdoors

‘The carbon footprints of outdoor holidays tend to be much lower than hotel stays.’

If you camp out “you are closer to nature than any other accommodation option”, says Brodie Farrow, of the online camping and touring travel agent Pitchup . There are many benefits to this, she says: “It is really good for mental health. It is also a much more sustainable option: the carbon footprints of outdoor holidays tend to be much lower than hotel stays, as people travel by car rather than flying and it promotes local produce and low-impact activities such as hiking in the surrounding area. The accommodation or pitches are much less carbon intensive than hotels, too. And you have a positive impact on the community that you are visiting: camping attracts a higher number of customers at a lower cost than hotels do, which can help to underpin the viability of local facilities such as the shop, the bar and takeaway, and that benefits the wider community.”

15. If you are camping-phobic, glamp

“There really is something for everyone,” says Farrow. “You can get glamping accommodation with four-poster beds if you prefer camping in luxury, or you can go really wild and remote, with no facilities, out on your own and back to nature. I think you would be hard-pressed to say that there is nothing that appeals.” Although glamping has become a fairly pricey option, she says: “Some types are much cheaper than others. You can get some ‘pod-only’ camping accommodation, where you bring your own bedding, starting from £15 a night.”

16. If the weather is terrible …

… And you are under canvas, “try to keep your bedroom a wet-gear-free zone”, says Farrow. “Store and dry wet stuff in your porch area rather than in your bedroom compartment. Protect your equipment by putting it in plastic bags or dry bags. Don’t let anything touch your tent walls or you will have soggy socks.” For activities, she suggests, “swimming in the sea, because you are wet already, or going to the pub”. If you are disappointed by the weather on a non-camping holiday, “as annoying as it is, try to embrace it”, says Sharp. Many people come back from their holidays exhausted because they try to see and do everything when they’re away. Instead, he says: “Have a lie-in, ask local people which is the best restaurant for a long, lazy lunch and, most of all, relax and recharge your batteries – it’s a holiday after all.”

17. For best value destinations, try …

Belgrade has an underground culture scene similar to Berlin 20 years ago.

“Go for Belgrade over Berlin,” says Youngman. “It has an underground culture scene very similar to Berlin 20 years ago.” For backpackers, Bollinger suggests: “Some places in Central America can be really affordable. Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala are good options for someone wanting to think outside the box.” Sharp says there are more affordable options in “Cyprus, Bulgaria, Turkey and Egypt, compared with Spain and the Balearics, which are becoming increasingly expensive due to cost of living increases”. If you are looking for a staycation, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cornwall are some of the most popular UK locations on Pitchup, says Farrow, which can inflate the price. Locations such as Pembrokeshire and the Isle of Wight are cheaper.

18. For a trip of a lifetime that doesn’t cost the earth …

“North Macedonia is just amazing,” says Youngman. “Ohrid has beautiful cobbled streets, Ottoman architecture , fantastic food and wine and you can visit the most biodiverse lake in Europe.” Farrow says: “I camped at the foot of Ben Nevis last year before hiking up it. The weather was terrible but it was worth it for the unreal views.” While Bollinger’s most memorable trip was “Interrailing in Europe and finding a way to do things on my own. It was before smartphones, so it was a very interesting experience and built up my confidence in travelling.”

19. If in doubt, follow local people

“Live like a local person by taking local buses and eating in local spots,” says Bollinger. “It is going to save you money, and will also let you experience life in a different way.” Power adds: “People want to go to Peru but they never come back talking about Machu Picchu, they come back talking about the people they met. Buy local and connections will happen for you. In the absence of interaction with your host community, the things you see are just wallpaper.”

20. And remember: you get what you pay for

“If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is,” says Sharp.

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'Expensive in every way': What travelers should expect this summer

Summer travel in 2024 will be "expensive in every way," said Katharine Nohr. And she should know.

She's planning a two-week adventure to Europe in June, which starts with a marathon flight from Honolulu to Zurich, where she'll speak at a conference. Then she's hopscotching across Europe – to Vienna, then on to the Olympics. Nohr made plans to be in Nantes, France, to watch a soccer game, in Lille for basketball, and in Paris for gymnastics, boxing and swimming.

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All told, it'll set her back five figures despite her best efforts, which include flying economy class and staying in the lowest-priced hotels. 

"The trip is pricey, even with my efforts to economize," said Nohr, an attorney from Honolulu. "But it's a once-in-my-life adventure." 

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Summer travelers are pursuing exciting, expensive vacations

Nohr is part of a wave of travelers who are making big plans for this summer. The itineraries are exciting – and expensive. 

Pretty much every barometer of travel intent is up for the summer travel season. Inflation and unemployment are low, and consumer sentiment and curiosity are high, fueling an unprecedented interest in travel. 

"Bookings are rising," said Susan Sherren, who runs Couture Trips , a travel agency. "Unfortunately, hotel, tour and air prices are not falling. So if you plan on hitting the road this summer, make sure you are willing to splash some cash."

Travel companies say they're overwhelmed with summer reservations.

"The travel economy is booming," said Joe Ialacci, owner of Yacht Hampton Boating Club , a company that rents yachts in Sag Harbor, New York. He's seeing a 40% increase in rentals this summer compared with last year as Americans shift some of their vacation dollars to domestic destinations.

Prices aren't the only thing trending higher. People's expectations for their summer vacation are also higher than at any time since the pandemic, said Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing , a multinational travel agency headquartered in London. 

"They're embracing the unknown," she said.

And one of the great unknowns is travel prices. How much higher will they be?

What will prices be like this summer?

It depends on where you're going. There's good news if you're traveling within the U.S.: Flights and hotels are a little less expensive than last summer . But they're rising elsewhere. Here's the breakdown:

  • Airfares are mixed. Domestic round-trip airfares for summer will peak at $315 a ticket, according to the travel platform Hopper . Flights to Europe are cheaper, too. They've fallen 10% from last year to $882. But flights to South America are up 2% and flights to Canada have risen 7%. You'll pay an average of $708 to fly south of the border and $419 to head north.
  • U.S. hotel rates are down. Domestically, they're about the same as last year at an average of $206 a night.
  • Car rental prices are rising. Average domestic car rental rates are up only 3% this summer to $42 a day on a four-day rental, according to Hopper. 

But you can avoid the high prices with a little strategic planning, experts say.

What to avoid this summer

American travelers are becoming more predictable in their summer vacation choices, said John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group . Immediately after the pandemic, they embarked on "revenge" vacations to far-flung locations. Now they're returning to more conventional vacations.

"We continue to see U.S. travelers heading back to the more traditional locations across Europe this year, like London, Rome, Athens and Munich," he said.

There are places that will be exceptionally busy – and exceptionally pricey – this summer.

  • Paris during the Olympics. The Olympic Games are in Paris this summer. Rooms are more than double the normal rates , which is typical of the Olympics. Paris is already crowded with tourists during the summer, so you can probably imagine what it will be like with the Olympics. Zut, alors!
  • Taylor Swift is touring Europe this summer. Prices will be higher and the crowds will be denser. "If you aren't planning to attend one of her concerts, I recommend planning around those European cities when she's there," said Betsy Ball, co-founder of Euro Travel Coach . (Want to know if your schedules overlap? Here's Taylor Swift's concert schedule .)
  • Other big summer events. Even if you steer clear of Taylor and the Olympics, you're still not out of the woods. There's the UEFA Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany in June. There's the Tour de France in July, which begins in Florence and finishes in Nice. France is also hosting the Paralympic Games in August and September in Paris, Nice, Marseille and Bordeaux.

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When is the best time to book a 2024 summer vacation?

Because this is going to be a busy season, the sooner you book, the better. Hopper recommends buying your plane tickets two to three months before your departure for domestic flights, and for international – well, it's probably too late to get that rock-bottom fare. If you're reading this in April, you can still find something for late August or early September, according to its airfare experts.

As always, you can save money by booking a flight for midweek instead of on the weekend – and, of course, by keeping far, far away from the big travel holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. 

Also, if you're going overseas, remember the holiday calendar is different there. For example, half of Europe shuts down in August for summer vacation. It's worth a look-up, otherwise, you could face some real disappointments.

Strategies for traveling better during the summer

One tactic that consistently works is splitting your getaway into two sections. Take that required summer vacation with your family somewhere less expensive during the high season. Then, wait until shoulder season for the big trip. 

That's what Ross Copas, a retired electrician from Tweed, Canada, is doing during the summer of 2024. It's a road trip across the northern U.S. by motorcycle – New York to Washington state, and then back east through Canada. 

Then he's heading to Amsterdam in September for a 23-day European river cruise. He said the late-summer getaway will be costly, but he doubts fares will fall anytime soon. "So price be damned," he said.

Actually, that's pretty smart. I took the same cruise on Viking River Cruises many years ago, and it was worth every penny.

With hotel rates rising in some places this summer, this is the right time to consider alternatives. Monica Fish, a writer from Glen Rock, New Jersey, is headed to Ireland to catch one of Taylor Swift's performances. She said hotel rooms in Dublin are overpriced, if they're even available. But Fish found an affordable vacation rental. 

"We just had to book it farther in advance than we normally would," she said. 

Go ahead, follow the crowds this summer

I think it's fine to follow the crowds this summer. I'll be doing it. I'm planning to rent an apartment for a month in Switzerland with Blueground, a long-term apartment rental company. Then I'm crashing on a friend's sofa in Spain, then heading to Sweden to see other friends and visiting my brother in Finland. Yes, travel writers know people everywhere . 

But don't follow the crowds off a cliff. There are places even I won't go. I might take the four-hour train trip from Zurich to Paris in June to check out my favorite patisseries, but I wouldn't go anywhere near the City of Lights during the Summer Games in July unless I made a reservation a long time ago.

And Taylor Swift? Puh-leeze. I'm more of a jazz guy.

Christopher Elliott  is an author, consumer advocate, and journalist. He founded  Elliott Advocacy , a nonprofit organization that helps solve consumer problems. He publishes  Elliott Confidential , a travel newsletter, and the  Elliott Report , a news site about customer service. If you need help with a consumer problem, you can  reach him here  or email him at  [email protected] .

IMAGES

  1. The 10 Best Places to Travel for Thanksgiving

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  2. The 15 Best Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Tips Your Trip Needs

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  3. Thanksgiving Travel Tips

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  4. 10 Great Places to Visit for Thanksgiving

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  5. Thanksgiving Travel Tips

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  6. A Fresh Look at the Thanksgiving Holiday in America

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COMMENTS

  1. Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

    The busiest and most expensive days to fly before Thanksgiving will be Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to AAA. The best day to go to the airport for Thanksgiving is Monday, Nov ...

  2. The Busiest Travel Days Around Thanksgiving

    Thursday before. Monday before. Saturday before. Thursday after. Tuesday after (Giving Tuesday). Friday after (Black Friday). Wednesday after. Thanksgiving Day (least crowded). When broken out by ...

  3. Thanksgiving travel: 8 do's and don'ts for your holiday flights

    The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday said it expects to screen an estimated 20 million people, or 2 million per day, at U.S. airports over the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period ...

  4. These Are the Busiest Days and Times to Travel for Thanksgiving

    But that is 2.5% lower than in 2019. Americans who are traveling by car should travel early on Wednesday morning or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to skip the crowds, and avoid travel between ...

  5. Thanksgiving Travel: Here's What to Know for the Holiday

    On the ground. AAA predicts that 49.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations for Thanksgiving, an increase of 1.7 percent compared with 2022, said Robert Sinclair Jr., a senior manager ...

  6. Thanksgiving travel can be a nightmare. Here's how to hack it

    Consider leaving before 11 a.m. instead. Roads will be busiest on Thanksgiving day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Opt to travel before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. On Friday, avoid the road between noon ...

  7. The Best (and Worst) Days to Fly for Thanksgiving

    Otherwise, extending your trip to leave and/or return on off-peak travel days can help reduce the cost of your flight. The cheapest days to fly for Thanksgiving 2021 include: Sunday, November 21 ...

  8. The best (and worst) times to travel for Thanksgiving 2023

    As for the return trip, Friday, November 24 is expected to be the busiest travel day. The best times to depart are before 11am or after 7pm. On Sunday, November 26, aim to hit the road before noon.

  9. Thanksgiving travel 2022 tips: Busiest airports, travel days

    The slowest day for travel will be on Thanksgiving day itself, although 2.24 million are still expected to be en route. HOLIDAY SAVINGS: You could save up to 15% on winter airfare with these ...

  10. Thanksgiving travel: What to know about flights, driving and weather

    If you need to travel Wednesday, leave before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, try to drive before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m., when traffic will be lightest, according to INRIX. For the ...

  11. Thanksgiving travel is up this year. Here's what to expect if you're

    As of Nov. 7, bookings for Thanksgiving week flights are up 78% over last year, and they're even slightly ahead of 2019, up 3.2% from pre-pandemic levels. "There's excitement around potentially ...

  12. Live updates: Thanksgiving holiday travel and weather news

    Vincent Alban/Reuters. Weather issues and severe turbulence are disrupting Thanksgiving travel on Wednesday morning, particularly at busy Northeast airports. More than 1,000 flights have been ...

  13. Thanksgiving travel predicted to be busy on the roads and record ...

    This Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest in several years and a record-setter for air travel. In all, AAA forecasts there will be 55.4 million people traveling, including more ...

  14. Live updates: Thanksgiving travel, flight cancellations and ...

    Thanksgiving travel is forecast to reach nearly 98% of pre-pandemic volume, as over 54 million Americans are expected to be on the move, according to AAA. Follow live news updates here.

  15. what's ahead for travelers during Thanksgiving 2023

    Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23 and Black Friday, Nov. 24. Thanksgiving itself is one of the easier days to travel over the holiday stretch: Airlines for America pegs it as the lightest travel day ...

  16. Thanksgiving travel 2023: when to drive and products for a better ride

    Heading into Thanksgiving, the roads are predicted to be particularly congested on the day before Thanksgiving, especially between the hours of 2 pm-6 pm ET, according to INRIX data retrieved by USA TODAY. On Thanksgiving day, the roads will be busiest between 11 am-3 pm ET. And lastly, heading home you'll find that roads will be busiest on ...

  17. Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

    Thanksgiving travel by air AAA projects 4.7 million travelers will fly over Thanksgiving -- a 6.6% increase from last year. This would mark the highest number of people flying for Thanksgiving ...

  18. 21 Things to Know Before You Go to Moscow

    1: Off-kilter genius at Delicatessen: Brain pâté with kefir butter and young radishes served mezze-style, and the caviar and tartare pizza. Head for Food City. You might think that calling Food City (Фуд Сити), an agriculture depot on the outskirts of Moscow, a "city" would be some kind of hyperbole. It is not.

  19. Turkey for Thanksgiving....with a side of Tajikistan, Serbia

    Trip Reports - Turkey for Thanksgiving....with a side of Tajikistan, Serbia, Montenegro, and Moscow - Originally Posted by ironmanjt I took that route twice this year...and it was a 737-800 both times, so we were spared! Argh, I can't keep up with Turkish's fleet inconsistencies (and nor can their website, it seems). I

  20. Thanksgiving travel: The best and worst times to avoid traffic

    Worst time: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Peak travel time increase: 144%. New York. Worst corridor: I-278 South, I-495 to 6th Ave. Worst day: Wednesday. Worst time: 2:45-4:45 p.m. Peak travel time increase: 158 ...

  21. Walking Tour: Central Moscow from the Arbat to the Kremlin

    Or at the bottom of Tverskaya right opposite Kremlin entrance, stop in at Grand Cafe Dr Zhivago for a taste of Imperial Russian food and decor.. Take a walk around the Kremlin and Red Square, perhaps visit Lenin's Tomb. Then, duck into GUM, Moscow's department store from the 1800s.Wander through the legendary food hall, Gastronome No. 1. These days, it may stock fine food imports from all ...

  22. Moscow

    Price per person. 641,69. View details. About the tour Reviews 10. 8 days / 7 nights. St. Petersburg Moscow. We offer you a unique opportunity to visit Russia's two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. This fascinating, week-long tour will take you to the historic Russian capitals that have always played the most important part in the ...

  23. Spring Sunshine

    Tuesday will look very much like Monday. We will have a full day of sunshine with temperatures in the 60s. Some towns will eclipse 70, while some coastal towns will stay in the 50s. Winds shift to the northeast Wednesday. So, while most will repeat the sunshine and 60s, it'll be cooler at the coast for sure. At least it'll stay dry!

  24. The experts: travel agents on 20 ways to book a sustainable and

    Be open-minded … Photograph: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/Getty Images. Jessica Bollinger, who works in the Bristol branch of Danish travel agent Kilroy, which specialises in youth and adventure ...

  25. Everything you need to know about traveling in the summer of 2024

    Inflation and unemployment are low, and consumer sentiment and curiosity are high, fueling an unprecedented interest in travel during the summer of 2024. "Bookings are rising," said Susan Sherren ...