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Kara Hitchens
Manager, Public and Government Affairs, OH
O: (937) 224-2817
C: (937) 558-8427
khitchens@aaa-alliedgroup.com

Nov. 16, 2021 – AAA is projecting that nearly 2.2 million Ohioans will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of more than 13% over last year – making it the fourth highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since AAA starting reporting data.

As usual, the great majority of those travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting that nearly 2 million Ohioans will be hitting the road - the fourth highest number since AAA has been keeping record.

The dramatic bounce back in travel compared to last year is in keeping with the findings of a new AAA poll of Ohio residents. Only 7% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a ‘significant’ risk for COVID. This in contrast to a similar poll last year where more than 34% felt holiday travel posed ‘significant’ risk for COVID.

“Both the Thanksgiving travel projections and the results of AAA’s statewide poll tell the same story. 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,” says Kara Hitchens, spokesperson for AAA. “Travelers should expect - and plan for – both the roadways and airports to be as busy as ever.”

AAA projects that the number of Ohioans driving to their destinations (1.9M) will be up almost 8% over last year and nearly 6% below auto travel for Thanksgiving 2019.

Locally, AAA is projecting that about 113,043 people in Northwest Ohio plan to travel for the holiday. That number is nearly a 14% increase over 2020. Again, the majority of people will drive – 16.7% - that’s an increase of 8% over 2020.

 

Air Travel Jumps More than 81%

AAA is projecting 193,330 Ohioans will take to the skies, a jump of more than 81% over last year, but still down nearly 4% from the number of Ohioans flying over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2019.

A closer look at Northwest Ohio, AAA predicts 10,222 people will fly to their destinations – up nearly 83% over 2020.

Bus, Train, other modes of transportation also up

AAA is projecting that nearly 42,000 Ohioans will travel by bus, train or some other mode of transportation over the holiday weekend, a jump of almost 263% 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 29% below 2019.

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

 

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel across Ohio 2021

 

Total

Automobile

Air

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2021 (Forecast)

2.168M

1.93M

193,300

41,974

2020 (Actual)

1.916M

1.798M

160,000

10,000

2019 (Actual)

2.310M

2.050M

201,000

42,000

Change (2019 to 2021)

−6,1%

−5.7%

−3,9%

-29%

Change (2020 to 2021)

+13.1

+7.5%

+81.5%

+263%

 

AAA’s National Travel Projections

The return of Ohioans to near pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travel 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, Nov. 15 is $3.41, an increase of $1.29 over last year and the highest gas prices have been at this time of year since 2013. Historically, higher gas prices have not kept travelers home. Instead, they adjust their budgets to spend less on other expenses such as meals or lodging. But, AAA’s poll of Ohio residents found that more than a third (32%) of those not driving a significant distance for the holiday, said that gas prices did play a role in that decision.

No Holiday for AAA – Slow Down/Move Over

AAA is expecting to rescue more than 4,000 Members over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend - just in the Ohio area alone – and nearly half of those calls will require a tow. 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  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 Ohio who have locked themselves out of their vehicles,” Hitchens adds. “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.”

Safe Travels

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its recommendations for holiday gatherings and related travel, saying that the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. However, everyone’s situation is unique and therefore, AAA urges anyone considering gathering or traveling for Thanksgiving to consult CDC guidance before finalizing holiday plans.

Navigating the New Travel Landscape

This year’s national forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year, 90% of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of travel. Although the car is still the most popular choice for travelers, a greater share will opt to travel by air and other modes such as bus, train or cruise this year. Whether you plan to do so by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges on the way to your Thanksgiving destination.

Be Proactive. Book flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible. Prices are not going down and are still somewhat impacted by the limited capacity of flights and staffing challenges faced by many industries. Consider working with a travel advisor who can make any last-minute changes to travel plans, explore travel insurance options and help plan a trip that meets your needs and comfort level this holiday season.

Be Patient. The roads and airports will be busy so plan ahead.

  • Arrive at the airport early so you’ll have plenty of time to get through longer TSA lines and other travel checkpoints. For domestic travel, AAA suggests 2 hours ahead of departure time and 3 hours for international.
  • Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.
  • Hit the road when there’s less traffic and allow for extra time when traveling to your destination.

Be Protected—Both You and Your Trip.  If you plan to travel during the holidays, it’s essential to do so safely and understand how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your investment while traveling. Also, as travel restrictions remain in flux, it’s essential to know requirements and recommendations based on your vaccination status, where you’re traveling from and where you’re traveling to. AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com are also helpful resources travelers may use for free to understand closures, recommendations and requirements when traveling in the U.S.

  • Travel insurance—AAA highly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. It is best to consult the expertise of a travel advisor who can guide you on the coverage options available for your specific trip, including if your destination requires visitors to carry travel insurance.
  • Clean accommodationswhen booking a place to stay, look for accommodations that prioritize cleanliness and have implemented additional housekeeping standards since the start of the pandemic. Earlier this year, as part of its Diamond designation, AAA enhanced its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Hotels that meet these new standards are now recognized as Inspected Clean and a current listing can be found here.
  • Safe travel = smart travel—everything from airports to restaurants to attractions will be busier this Thanksgiving, which means more people congregating. Masks are still required for everyone on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. The CDC also recommends everyone wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Domestic and international travel guidelinesas of November 8, the U.S. opened its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers. The CDC has updated its guidance to reflect these changes. When traveling within the U.S., fully vaccinated travelers do not need a negative viral test or to self-quarantine. For international travel, refer to the CDC for specific guidelines.

Travelers Headed to Big Cities and Beaches This Thanksgiving

AAA Travel continues to see a strong recovery that began over the summer and will last into the holiday season. AAA booking data reveals that big cities and tropical destinations are topping travelers’ list this Thanksgiving both domestically and abroad:

2021 Top Thanksgiving Destinations

U.S Destinations

International Destinations

Orlando, FL

Cancun, Mexico

Anaheim, CA

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX

Aruba

Phoenix, AZ

Los Cabos, Mexico

Honolulu, HI

Nassau, Bahamas

Kahului, Maui, HI

St. Lucia, West Indies

Atlanta, GA

Dublin, Ireland

Tampa, FL

(tie) Tel Aviv, Israel and Calgary, Canada

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Paris, France

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

Day

Worst Time

Best Time

Wednesday

12:00 - 8:00PM

After 9:00PM

Thursday

12:00 - 3:00PM

Before 11:00AM

Friday

1:00 - 4:00PM

Before 11:00AM

Saturday

2:00 - 7:00PM

Before 12:00PM

Sunday

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 Ohio Drivers

A Thanksgiving Holiday Travel survey of Ohio drivers was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of AAA, November 4-5, 2021.  The margin of error is +/- 3.2%.

About INRIX
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.

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About AAA Club Alliance: AAA Club Alliance, Inc. is the third largest AAA club in the national AAA federation and serves more than six million members in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services, 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, not-for-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and AndroidFor more information, visit www.AAA.com.


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