Marilyn Buskohl
Public Affairs Director
O: (605) 310-4614
C: (605) 367-3964

Almost 154,000 South Dakotans Will Travel for Thanksgiving

Record Number Will Drive to their Holiday Destinations 

November 16, 2018 - AAA projects the number of South Dakotans traveling over Thanksgiving will be higher this year than it has been in more than a decade and, AAA says, the number of South Dakotans driving to their holiday destinations is more than ever previously recorded.

Almost 154,000 South Dakotans are set to get away, an increase of 4.6% over last year and more than 146,500 South Dakotans will be hitting the road for Thanksgiving.

“A strong labor market and consumer confidence are both contributing factors to the growing number of travelers,” says Marilyn Buskohl, spokesperson for AAA South Dakota. “And, even though the holiday gas prices are higher than they've been in years, it appears drivers are not discouraged in the least”.

The increase in Thanksgiving travel across South Dakota mirrors the increase nationwide, with a projected 54 million Americans expected to travel a distance of 50 miles or more over the holiday.

How are they going??

Mostly driving…

More than 146,500  (95% of all travelers) will be hitting the roads, a record number of drivers for the Thanksgiving holiday and an increase of 4.6% over last year - despite the fact that gas prices across South Dakota are still, on average, about 14 cents higher than they were last year, and the highest since 2014.

But…Air Travel is Up Significantly

According to AAA, more than 6,700 South Dakotans will be flying over the Thanksgiving holiday – an increase of more than 5% over last year and the most in more than 10 years.

AAA says anyone flying should allow extra time to get there, extra time to get through security and expect delays.

"While this is mostly a driving holiday, those flying to their Thanksgiving destinations will have plenty of company," says Buskohl. "Confusion over TSA policies, winter clothing that may need to be removed and adults traveling with children tend to slow security, so travelers should expect delays."

Bus, Rail, Other modes of transport

The number of travelers training, busing or taking other modes of transport over the holiday is actually down slightly across South Dakota.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

By the Numbers: 2018 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast for South Dakota

  • Road trip ready: 95 percent of all travelers – more than 146,500 – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 4.6 percent over last year.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at more than 5 percent; more than 6,700 South Dakotans expected to fly over Thanksgiving.
  • Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is down slightly
  • Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.

Car Rental Costs Fall, Hotel Prices Mixed

Travelers can expect to save on car rentals this Thanksgiving holiday season. At $63, the average daily rate is 10 percent less than last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Travelers can also save on AAA Three Diamond hotels, with an average nightly rate of $166, a decline of six percent compared to last year. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has increased six percent with an average nightly cost of $124.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Road Ready

Before hitting the road, AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here


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TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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