LIVERMORE, CA – If you traveled last Thanksgiving during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, traffic will be very different in Livermore this year, especially if you plan to make the road trip. 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 travel forecast published this week by AAA. The forecast marks a 13% increase from 2020.
This year’s forecast also reflects the biggest increase in a year Thanksgiving trip since 2005, bringing travel volumes closer to pre-2019 pandemic levels.
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“Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again at the top of the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with loved ones for the holidays,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a press release.
Livermore travelers should be prepared for the roads and airports to be noticeably busier this year, according to the automobile club.
While car travel is expected to increase by 8% compared to 2020, air travel is expected to increase by almost 80%. Travel by bus or train is also expected to increase by 262%.
Where do people travel? AAA booking data reveals that major cities and tropical destinations are at the top of travelers’ lists for Thanksgiving. And although gasoline costs a dollar more per gallon than at this point last year, 90% of people still plan to travel by car.
Whether you plan to travel by plane, train, or automobile, those doing so in large urban cities are likely to see increased delays in areas where traffic jams are already common.
Transportation analytics firm INRIX, working with AAA, predicts that drivers will experience the worst traffic jams ahead of the holiday weekend, as commuters leave work early and mingle with holiday travelers.
Major metropolitan areas in the United States could see more than double the delays compared to typical commute times. Drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York are at risk of more than three times the delays.
If you’re planning to travel from the Bay Area and want to avoid the hustle and bustle, be aware that rush hour should be Wednesday, November 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hardest hit cooridor is expected to be Interstate 80 eastbound. , from Interstate Highway 580 to San Pablo Dam Road, according to AAA.
Traffic is expected to be 278% higher than normal, according to AAA.
Travelers are also likely to experience higher prices and other changes compared to last year. AAA recommends that travelers book their flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible, as prices are not expected to drop as the holidays approach.
Travel by plane: Even though air travel has seen a boom this year, AAA estimates that the lowest average plane ticket will cost around $ 132, or about 27.3% less than last year. Those looking to book a last-minute trip will find the best rates about two weeks before Thanksgiving, but availability may be limited.
Hotels: The cost of a night in mid-range hotels has increased by about 39%, with average nightly rates ranging between $ 137 and $ 172.
Car rental: Daily car rental rates average around $ 98, a 4% increase from last year.
Planning ahead can avoid a number of travel headaches, according to AAA:
- Get to the airport early so you have plenty of time to clear the longer TSA lines and other travel control points. For domestic travel, AAA suggests 2 hours prior to departure time and 3 hours for international travel.
- Consider booking a flight during off-peak periods to reduce waiting times.
- Hit the road when there is less traffic and allow more time to get to your destination.
- Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are located, along your route and at your intended destination to learn more about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
- Minimize stops along the way. Pack extra meals, snacks and drinks in addition to a roadside emergency kit.
- Follow public health advice. Use face masks and remember to distance yourself socially. Wash your hands regularly and be sure to pack sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health.
- Check with your hotel. Before any hotel stay, call ahead to make sure your hotel is open and ask what precautions it takes and what requirements are in place to protect guests.
For other helpful travel tips from AAA, visit the organization’s website COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for the latest national and local travel restrictions. You can also use TripTik.AAA.com to plan your trip and help you determine which rest areas, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route.