WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2023) – This Thanksgiving will mark a milestone in travel, with a surge projected to create one of the busiest travel periods on record.

Nationwide, 55.4 million people are expected to travel over the upcoming holiday weekend. That’s 2.3 percent more than last year and the third-largest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2001.

California, in particular, is set to break a record, with nearly 7.5 million residents planning on holiday getaways. That’s an increase of 3 percent over 2022.

“Travel demand has truly bounced back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Brian Ng, Senior Vice President of Membership and Travel Marketing for AAA Northern California. “Our holiday travel projections show the year long trend of Californians’ eagerness to get away and create memories with family and friends.”

AAA expects 88 percent of travelers – which is more than 49 million Americans – to drive to their destination (+1.7 percent from 2022). The skies are also anticipated to be busy, with 8.5 percent – or over 4.7 million people – flying to their holiday destinations (+6.6 percent from 2022). 

2023 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, AAA Northern California offers four Thanksgiving travel tips:

  • Road-ready your ride.  If you don’t want to be one of the estimated 360,000 Thanksgiving travelers calling AAA for roadside assistance nationwide, get a pre-trip inspection at a AAA Auto Repair Center to ensure your vehicle is ready to hit the road. 
  • Plan ahead. Use the AAA Mobile App to locate the cheapest gas and EV chargers, request roadside assistance more quickly, and save money with discounts.
  • Budget accordingly. While California gas prices have seen a slight decrease (-36 cents) compared to last year, they remain relatively high. The AAA Mobile app is now available in CarPlay, helping you find the nearest gas and EV stations, compare fuel prices, and drive with confidence.  
  • Outsmart the crowds. If flying, arrive at the airport early. If driving, consider aiming for off-peak periods (before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m.), especially on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

About AAA Northern California
AAA has a proud history of serving Members for over 100 years. AAA is on a mission to create Members for life by unleashing the innovative spirit of 5,300 employees representing 6 million Members across Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. In addition to legendary roadside assistance, AAA offers home, auto, and life insurance, travel, and home security services. Learn more at AAA.com.