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Ragina C. Ali
Public Relations Manager, MD
O: (410) 616-1900 (ext. 4361152)
C: (443) 465-5020


WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 16, 2021) – AAA is projecting that almost 1.3 million Washington, D.C. residents will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of more than 13% over last year, but nearly nine percent below pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travelers in 2019, which was the second highest travel volume on record for the holiday.

As usual, the great majority of those travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting that 93% of travelers – nearly 1.2 million Washingtonians will be hitting the road - the fourth highest number since AAA has been keeping record, and up almost 10% over last year.

The dramatic bounce back in travel compared to last year is consistent with the findings of a new AAA poll of Washington residents. Only 14% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a ‘significant’ risk for COVID. This in contrast to a similar poll last year where more than 48% felt holiday travel posed ‘significant’ risk for COVID.

“Both the Thanksgiving travel projections and the results of AAA’s poll of District drivers tell the same story. Many Thanksgiving travelers see COVID in the rear view mirror and they are looking forward to returning to the pre-pandemic tradition of gathering with family and friends,” said Ragina C. Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Travelers should expect - and plan for – both the roadways and airports to be as busy as ever.”

Air Travel Jumps More Than 80%

AAA is projecting more than 76,000 Washingtonians will take to the skies, a jump of more than 80% over last year, but still down 25% from the residents who flew over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2019.

Bus, Train, Other Modes Of Transportation Also Up

AAA is projecting that nearly 10,000 District residents will travel by bus, train or some other mode of transportation over the holiday weekend, a jump of more than 260% over last year when travel in a group setting was by far as low as it has been since AAA has been keeping record. But, the 2021 numbers are still more than 60% below 2019.

AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 24 – Sunday November 28.


Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Across Washington, D.C.






(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2021 (Forecast)





2020 (Actual)





2019 (Actual)





Change (2019 to 2021)


−6.5 %



Change (2020 to 2021)



+80.5 %



AAA’s National Travel Projections

The return of near pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travel for Washington residents mirrors national trends.

AAA predicts that 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020, with 90% (48.3 million) taking to the roads. While that is the biggest year-over-year bounce in Thanksgiving travel since 2005, nationwide, the overall travel volume still lags 2019 by about 5%.


Gas Prices

The national gas price average as of Monday, November 15 was $3.41 an increase of $1.29 over last year and the highest gas prices have been at this time of year since 2013. Washington, D.C.’s average was $3.62 yesterday, up 90 cents more than this time last year.  “Historically, higher gas prices have not kept travelers home,” Ali said. “Instead, they adjust their budgets to spend less on other expenses such as meals or lodging.” AAA’s poll of D.C residents was consistent with past findings, as nearly 90% of those not driving for the holiday, said gas prices played no role in that decision.


No Holiday for AAA – Slow Down/Move Over

AAA Mid-Atlantic is expecting to rescue nearly 12,000 Members over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Drivers are reminded to always Slow Down and Move Over for AAA tow truck drivers, other emergency first responders and the motorists they are assisting on the side of the road.

Schedule Vehicle Checkup to Minimize Risk of a Breakdown

Before any long trip, AAA suggests getting an inspection of your vehicle to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels. However, if your vehicle has been sitting idle these systems are particularly vulnerable to deteriorating especially without proper care or maintenance.

Whether you are traveling a distance or staying local, minimize the risk of spending precious time over your Thanksgiving holiday stranded along the roadside by making sure your vehicle is road-ready.

AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers across the region are offering FREE vehicle health inspections to ensure everyone gets to their holiday destinations without incident. Or, motorists can always find a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility nearby.

“In addition to responding to Members with flat tires, dead batteries and mechanical issues, AAA will respond to hundreds of motorists in the Washington-metro area who have locked themselves out of their vehicles,” Ali added. “Holiday travel provides ample opportunity for distraction. AAA is urging everyone to slow down and pay attention so you can get where you are going safely and without incident.”

Roads Will Be Bustling

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times.

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel


Worst Time

Best Time


12:00 - 8:00PM

After 9:00PM


12:00 - 3:00PM

Before 11:00AM


1:00 - 4:00PM

Before 11:00AM


2:00 - 7:00PM

Before 12:00PM


1:00 - 7:00PM

Before 12:00PM

Source: INRIX













Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit—a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise—developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken. 

The travel forecast is reported in-person trips. In particular, AAA and IHS Markit forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation.

AAA Poll of Washington Drivers

A Thanksgiving Holiday Travel survey of Washington drivers was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of AAA, November 4-5, 2021.  The margin of error is ±3.8%.

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. INRIX’s partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

About IHS Markit
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and nearly 90,000 members in Washington, D.C.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app ( for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit

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