AAA: Top 2021 Thanksgiving Destinations, Worst/Best Times to Travel

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Holiday Traffic | I-4 Exit Guide

The American Automobile Association (AAA) continues to see a strong travel recovery that began over the summer and will continue into the holiday season. AAA booking data reveals that big cities and tropical destinations are topping travelers’ list this Thanksgiving domestically. Here’s their 2021 Top Thanksgiving Destinations:

1.Orlando, Florida

2. Anaheim, California

3. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

4. Phoenix, Arizona

5. Honolulu, Hawaii

6. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

7. Atlanta, Georgia

8. Tampa, Florida

9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Thanksgiving Holiday 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, with drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City likely to experience more than three times the delays.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips and this year will be no different even during the pandemic,” says Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Drivers around major metros must be prepared for significant delays, especially Wednesday afternoon. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Worst Thanksgiving Corridors and Times to Travel

Metro AreaCorridorPeak Congestion% Over
Normal
AtlantaI-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK DrWed, 1:30 – 3:30PM340%
BostonI-93 N, Quincy Market to MA-28Wed, 1:00 – 3:00PM240%
ChicagoI-290 W, Morgan St to Wolfe RdWed, 2:45 – 4:45PM329%
DetroitI-96 W, 6 Mile Rd to Walled LakeWed, 2:00 – 4:00PM211%
HoustonI-10 W, Sjolander Rd to TX-330Wed, 3:15 – 5:15PM344%
Los AngelesI-5 S, Colorado St to Florence AveWed, 3:45 – 5:45PM385%
New YorkI-495 E, Borden Ave to Little Neck PkwyWed, 2:30 – 4:30PM482%
San FranciscoI-80 E, I-580 to San Pablo Dam RdWed, 4:00 – 6:00PM278%
SeattleI-5 S, WA-18 to WA-7Wed, 4:00 – 6:00PM257%
Washington DCI-95 S, I-395 to VA-123Wed, 2:00 – 4:00PM230%
Source: INRIX

Daily Worst and Best Thanksgiving Times to Travel

DayWorst TimeBest Time
Wednesday12:00 – 8:00PMAfter 9:00PM
Thursday12:00 – 3:00PMBefore 11:00AM
Friday1:00 – 4:00PMBefore 11:00AM
Saturday2:00 – 7:00PMBefore 12:00PM
Sunday1:00 – 7:00PMBefore 12:00PM
Source: INRIX

Expected Number May Change

AAA notes that the actual number of holiday travelers could fluctuate as we approach Thanksgiving. If there is an increase in reported COVID-19 cases, some people may decide to stay home, while others may note the progress in vaccinations and make last-minute decisions to travel. AAA recommends working with a travel advisor who can help you plan a vacation that meets your needs and comfort level this holiday season. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.


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