Thanksgiving is typically the biggest travel time of the year, rivaled only by Christmas. But due to the pandemic, far fewer Americans will be heading over the river and through the woods this year. According to AAA's Thanksgiving travel forecast, 50.6 million Americans, including 3.9 million Texans, are projected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Both of those numbers are down significantly. "AAA anticipates at least a ten percent drop in travel across the country, and a five percent drop in the Lone Star State," says Josh Zuber with AAA Texas. "That's the greatest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008."
The drop is not surprising, considering the months-old pandemic and recent CDC warning for Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel. "The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns and high unemployment, are clearly impacting Americans' and Texans' decisions to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday," says Zuber.
Among specific modes of travel, the most noticeable drop this year is in air travel. "In Texas, about 151,000 are expected to fly for Thanksgiving this year," says Zuber. "That's a real big decrease, down nearly half from last year."
Conversely, car travel is only projected to decline by one percent in Texas this year, and by about four percent nationally. And those who do take to the roads will be rewarded not only with a little less traffic, but cheap gas prices. As of this week, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Texas was more than 40 cents less than a year ago.
Those taking to the skies will also save money, with AAA noting that airfares are the lowest in three years. Houston's two major airports--Bush and Hobby--still expect some 800,000 passengers to pass through this week.