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Turkey day travel forecast

| November 16, 2023 1:00 AM

Roads and airports are expected to be stuffed with travelers over Thanksgiving weekend. 

According to AAA, 55.4 million Americans, including nearly 314,000 Idahoans, will journey 50 miles or more for turkey and all the trimmings —1.3 million travelers more than a year ago.

The Thanksgiving travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

AAA projects the busiest times on the road will be Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. as vacationers share the highways with the evening commute, and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday for the return. 

The best time to travel each day of the holiday break is before 11 a.m. 

Tuesday will also be the busiest day at the airport. AAA notes that airlines have moved to larger planes with fewer flights, which will result in busy TSA lines throughout the holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is all about family, and even with concerns about the economy and their financial future, people aren’t willing to sacrifice time with loved ones,” said AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde, in a news release. “Gas prices are significantly better than last year, and in some cases, people may also extend their vacation through remote work to avoid some of the bigger headaches on the road and in the air.”

Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations for Idaho Travelers

1. Anaheim, Calif.

2. Salt Lake City, Utah

3. Las Vegas, Nev.

4. Phoenix, Ariz.

5. Orlando, Fla.

6. Seattle, Wash.

7. Hawaii

8. Oregon Coast

9. Jackson, Wyo.

10. Billings, Mont.

“Theme parks, warm weather, and perhaps a little bit of skiing will be sprinkled into many of the Thanksgiving adventures this year,” Conde said. “But with traffic expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of congestion, building some extra time into your travel plans is a smart move.”