NAPERVILLE, IL – If you traveled last Thanksgiving at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, traffic in Naperville will be very different this year, especially if you plan to travel by car. It is also likely that it will cost you more to get to your destination.
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and US borders reopen to fully vaccinated international travelers, more than 53.4 million people are expected to travel this Thanksgiving, according to this year’s AAA travel forecast. The forecast means an increase of 13 percent compared to 2020.
This year’s forecast also reflects the highest increase in Thanksgiving travel in a year since 2005, bringing travel volume close to pre-2019 levels.
“With the borders open and new health and safety guidelines in place, travel is back at the top of the list of Americans ready to meet with loved ones for vacation,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president from AAA Travel said in a press release.
According to the car club, travelers to Naperville should be prepared for the fact that both the streets and the airports will be noticeably busier this year.
While car traffic is expected to increase by 8 percent in 2020, an increase of almost 80 percent is forecast for air traffic. Traveling by bus or train is also expected to increase by an unbelievable 262 percent.
Where are people going? AAA booking data shows major cities and tropical destinations are topping the travel lists this Thanksgiving. And although gasoline was $ 1 more per gallon than it was at this point last year, 90 percent of people still plan to travel by car.
Whether you arrive by plane, train or car, in large cities there are likely to be increased delays in areas where traffic congestion is already common.
Transportation analyst INRIX, working with AAA, predicts that the holiday weekend drivers will experience the worst of traffic jams as commuters leave work earlier and mingle with vacationers.
In major subway areas in the United States, delays can more than double compared to typical travel times. Drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City are likely to experience more than three times as many delays.
If you’re planning on arriving from the Chicago area and want to avoid the hustle and bustle, be aware that peak travel time is expected to be between 2:45 PM and 4:45 PM
Travelers are also likely to encounter some higher prices and other changes from last year. AAA recommends travelers book flights, rental cars, accommodations, and other activities as early as possible as prices are unlikely to drop as vacation approaches.
Air travel: Although air travel is experiencing a boom this year, AAA estimates the average lowest airfare will cost about $ 132, about 27.3 percent less than last year. Those looking to book last-minute trips can find the best fares about two weeks before Thanksgiving, but availability may be limited.
Hotels: The cost of an overnight stay in mid-range hotels has increased by about 39 percent, with average room prices ranging from $ 137 to $ 172.
Car Rental: Daily rental car prices averaged about $ 98, up 4 percent from last year.
Planning ahead can prevent a number of travel headaches, according to the AAA:
- Arrive at the airport early so you have plenty of time to pass through lengthy TSA lines and other travel checkpoints. For domestic travel, AAA recommends 2 hours before departure and 3 hours for international travel.
- Consider booking a flight outside of the main travel times to reduce waiting times.
- Get out on the road when there is less traffic and allow extra time to drive to your destination.
- Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities as to where you are along your route and planned destination for local conditions and any restrictions that may apply.
- Minimize stops along the way. Pack meals, extra snacks, and drinks in addition to a roadside emergency kit.
- Follow public health instructions. Use face masks and remember to distance yourself socially. Wash your hands regularly and pack disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to protect and monitor your health.
- Check with your hotel. Before each hotel stay, call to make sure your hotel is open and ask what precautions it is taking and what are its requirements to protect guests.
For more helpful travel advice from AAA, please refer to the organization’s COVID-19 Travel Restriction Map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. You can also use TripTik.AAA.com to plan your road trip and see which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels are open along your route.