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AAA expects Thanksgiving travel near pre-pandemic levels in Tennessee

AAA forecasts 1.2 million Tennesseans will travel for the holiday; the most since 2019.

AAA predicts 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. This national figure remains slightly below pre-pandemic levels. The same travel trend is seen in Tennessee as this year is forecast to be the busiest Thanksgiving since 2019.

AAA forecasts more than 1.2 million Tennesseans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. That’s 16,000 (1.3%) more Tennessee travelers than last year’s holiday and only 6,700 (0.5%) less than 2019.

“Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays. Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

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89% of Holiday Travelers will Drive

Despite higher gas prices, 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers will drive. AAA forecasts 48.65 million Americans will set out for a holiday road trip. That’s 203,000 more drivers than last year.

In Tennessee, 1.2 million will take a road trip; an increase of 12,000 people from last year’s holiday.

Gas Prices to Test Record Highs for the Holiday

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Pump prices have been fluctuating this month and could set new record highs for the holiday. In Tennessee, the highest daily average price for Thanksgiving was set back in 2012, at $3.18 per gallon. On Monday, drivers paid an average price of $3.30 per gallon. That’s 20 cents more than what Tennessee drivers paid last Thanksgiving ($3.10).

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by spending less on a hotel, shopping or dining out.”

Travelers can use the free AAA mobile app to compare gas prices, find certified repair shops, and member discounts in your area while traveling.

Busiest Days to Travel

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If you are hitting the road for the holidays, leave early. Travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion Monday-Wednesday afternoon and early evening. Traffic will be lighter during the morning and late evening hours and on Thanksgiving Day.

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