The top two years were 2005 and 2019, respectively.
“That tells us that people are still committed to traveling and getting back together with family and friends,” AAA Club Alliance spokeswoman Kara Hitchens told this news outlet. “We still think some of that is recovery from COVID. Even though a lot of people traveled last year, we know travel was way down in 2020 and 2021, so people are still getting back out.”
The vast majority of those on the move — 49.1 million — are expected to travel by car. That’s an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022, and just short of pre-pandemic level (49.9 million), according to AAA.
About 2.2 million Ohioans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, an increase of 2.3% over last year. Of them, 1.9 million will be traveling by car, nearly 232,000 by plane and another 65,000 by other means, including train, bus or cruise, according to AAA.
Those numbers portend the third-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing the record set of 2.4 million in 2005.
In the Dayton metro area, which includes Montgomery, Miami, Greene and Clark counties, nearly 20% of people, or nearly 185,000 residents, will be traveling for the holiday, according to AAA. Much like 2022, most of those area travelers — more than 161,000 — will drive to their destinations this holiday weekend.
The weather in the region will dry and seasonable for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making travel a bit easier for those entering and exiting the area.
Recent gas prices bode well for drivers from the Dayton area, who are paying more than 40 cents less than what they paid for gas last year, according to GasBuddy data. Motorists in the Dayton area found gas at $3.13 per gallon, on average, as of Friday. with prices as low as $2.86 and as high as $3.29.
Gas prices are expected to remain steady or potentially decrease slightly leading up to the holiday weekend, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
Declining gas prices are partially the result of a decreasing demand and a four-week drop in the price of oil, “which is opening up a lot of possibilities for even further decline,” De Haan said.
Dayton area gas prices cycled the first full week of November, rising from a $2.95 average to $3.29, De Haan said.
“With the wholesale price of gasoline falling another seven cents (Thursday) that that should give us enough room that stations may be able to avoid a price cycle before Thanksgiving,” he said. “And so that would mean by Thanksgiving, prices in Dayton could be back below $3.
De Haan said he doesn’t have much reason to believe gas prices will spike anytime soon.
For those traveling by car, “hopefully you’ve already booked (a room) or know where you’re going to be staying” because accommodation inventory remains tight, Hitchens said.
“And (if you’re traveling by plane), obviously if you haven’t booked your flight yet, you’re going to pay more for that,” she said.
Ohio’s expected volume increase at the airport mirrors the national trend of an increase of 6.6% over 2022, with nearly 4.7 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year, according to AAA. That’s 2.5% more than the pre-pandemic numbers of 2019 (nearly 4.6 million people), according to AAA.
“During the Thanksgiving rush period of Nov. 22 through Nov. 26 we show that our seat capacity is more than 1,000 seats higher than in 2022,” said Linda Hughes, spokeswoman for Dayton International Airport, on Friday. “Throughout the year our load factors have averaged 85% of our seat capacity. During this holiday season we expect to continue to fill up the available seats.”
Travelers flying during the holiday rush should be sure to pack patience, she said.
“Thanksgiving holiday is still considered the busiest travel holiday of the year,” she said. “Give yourselves plenty of time to get to the airports and through the airports. With increased passenger volumes this could take longer than usual. Go to TSA.gov to see what items are allowed and/or prohibited for air travel in your carry-on or checked baggage.”
Holiday booking prices
This holiday season, travelers are generally paying less for domestic trips compared to last year and more for international vacations. The one exception is airfare, which is slightly more expensive for domestic flights this season. Here’s a breakdown of average booking prices for November and December.
Flights: The average price for a domestic flight is $681, up 5% from 2022.
Hotels: The average price for a domestic hotel stay is $598, down 12% from 2022.
Rental cars: Average per car reservation is $590, down 20% from 2022.
Cruises: Average per cruise is $1,507, down 12% compared to 2022.