AAA forecasts more holiday traffic on Georgia roads this Thanksgiving

ATLANTA – Travel in Georgia is expected to be the highest this Thanksgiving since 2019.

AAA forecasts more than 1.6 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving — 2%, or 26,000 more Georgia travelers than last year.

Georgia’s 2022 Thanksgiving Forecast shows:

• Total trip: 1,651,458

• Auto-Travel: 1,510,457

• Air travel: 114,307

• Other modes: 26,694

“Travel is still recovering from the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel at AAA – The Auto Club Group.

“While gasoline prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, especially during the holiday season,” she said.

“Travel spending is at its highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our forecasts this year. AAA anticipates busy roads and long airport lines, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

The totals of previous years in Georgia were:

• 2021: 1,625,004 for all modes of transport, 1,496,318 for car travel, 106,840 for air travel and 21,694 for other modes of transport.

• 2020: 1,444,448 for all modes of transport, 1,378,432 for car travel, 60,948 for air travel and 5,068 for other modes of transport.

• 2019: 1,658,197 for all modes of transport, 1,504,039 for car travel, 124,120 for air travel and 30,038 for other modes of transport.

AAA also predicts 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving — slightly below pre-pandemic levels.

Gas prices to test record highs for the holiday

Pump prices have been volatile this month and could be the second highest since the start of the holiday season.

In Georgia, the highest daily average price for Thanksgiving in 2012 was reset to $3.28 a gallon.

As of Monday, Nov. 21, Newton County gas stations charged an average of $3.07 per gallon of unleaded lead, AAA reported.

Statewide, drivers in Georgia paid an average price of $3.11 per gallon. That’s 11 cents less than what Georgia drivers paid last Thanksgiving ($3.22).

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to discourage people from traveling with family and friends,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers try to offset the extra costs by spending less on a hotel, shopping or dining.”

The busiest travel days

If you’re going on vacation, go early. Travelers should expect much heavier traffic jams than normal Monday through Wednesday afternoons and early evenings. Traffic will be lighter in the mornings and late evenings and on Thanksgiving Day.

• Wednesday 23 November

Worst travel time 11 a.m. to 8 p.m

Best travel time before 8am, after 8pm

• Thanksgiving Day, November 24th

Worst 11am-3pm

Best before 11am, after 6pm

• Black Friday, November 25th

Worst 4-8pm

Best before 11am, after 8pm

Saturday 26 Nov

Worst 4-8pm

Best before 2 p.m., after 8 p.m

Sunday 27 Nov

Worst 4-8pm

Best before 11am, after 8pm

AAA expects rescue of 411,000 stranded motorists

More than 411,000 drivers need AAA roadside assistance over the holiday weekend. The most common reasons are dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA encourages drivers to receive a full vehicle inspection before hitting the road to check everything from tires, oil, air filters and wiper blades. AAA has a list of certified mechanics at AAA.com/AutoRepair.

AAA reminds drivers to ‘drive over for me’

The more people share the streets, the greater the danger for people on the side of the road. AAA is reminding motorists to slow down and switch for first responders and tow trucks. We also ask that you show the same courtesy to people with disabled vehicles.

“We want to make sure that all holidaymakers, tow truck drivers and first responders get home safely this Thanksgiving,” Waiters said. “Please be polite and move over for flashing lights, whether it’s a tow truck or a disabled vehicle with its hazard lights on.”

Air travel is approaching pre-pandemic levels

In addition to traffic jams on the roads, Thanksgiving travelers are likely to encounter long lines at the airport. Nationwide, air travel is up nearly 8% year over year, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. This is an increase of more than 330,000 passengers and almost 99% of the volume of 2019.

Flight delays and even cancellations are not uncommon at this time of year due to winter weather, staffing challenges and heavy demand.

AAA offers the following tips for air travelers:

• Check in early online.

• Monitor your flight status with your airline’s mobile app.

• Arrive two to three hours before scheduled departure.

• Pack medication and extra clothing in your hand luggage in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Tips for air travelers who have not yet booked their flight:

• Book a flight that departs early in the day. Afternoon and evening flights are more prone to delays and cancellations.

• Book a direct flight. Otherwise, allow extra time between connecting flights if your first flight is delayed.

• Consider traveling on Thanksgiving Day. This might offer the best combination of availability and price.

“It’s not too late to get travel insurance, which can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can offer compensation for flight delays as little as three hours. And if your flight is cancelled, passengers can get compensation for covered expenses.”

Travel prices are usually higher than in the previous year

• Fares are 22% more than last year.

• The lowest round-trip fare is $166 compared to $135 in 2021.

• Hotels cost 17% more than 2021. A mid-range AAA three-diamond hotel costs $218 per night versus $187 last year.

• Rental cars cost 7% less. The average daily rate is $90 versus $98 last year.

The most popular travel destinations

Based on hotel bookings on AAA.com: Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; New York City; Atlanta; Phoenix, Ariz.; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Chicago; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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