47M people expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving

47M people expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving

Although fewer people are expected to travel during Thanksgiving this year, road trips will likely be the top choice for those who leave home.

About 47.8 million travelers are expected to drive to their final destination, according to AAA.

Travel by automobile is projected to fall by 4.3%, to 47.8 million travelers, accounting for 95% of all holiday travel. Overall, holiday travel is expected to be down 10%.

However, drivers need to be prepared for their route ahead and consider minimizing the number of stops along the way by packing meals, extra snacks and drinks.

"The wait-and-see travel trend continues to impact final travel decisions, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. "The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure."

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However, the CDC is warning travelers about the additional risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.

About 2.4 million people still plan to travel by plane for Thanksgiving, but that figure is half of last year's 4.58 million people.

"Most of our family are a little iffy about going out. It's just family, no friends. We're keeping it close-knit for Thanksgiving," said Jensen Beach resident Heather Hazlett.

She and her family opted for a staycation in the Florida Keys, but ran into plenty of traffic coming home.

"My husband said there was going to be hardly any traffic, but there [was] a lot of traffic. People are getting out," Hazlett said.

Heather Hazlett of Jensen Beach just returned to Palm Beach County after a quick holiday vacation in the Florida Keys.
Heather Hazlett of Jensen Beach just returned to Palm Beach County after a quick holiday vacation in the Florida Keys.

With overall holiday travel expected to be down this year, some businesses are noticing a slowdown.

"This is traditionally the busiest three to four days of the year. This year it definitely is not. We're still busy, but we're not as busy we normally are," said Adam Hamill, Midas of Lake Worth manager.

RELATED: Businesses benefit from fewer gatherings for Thanksgiving

Hamill points to the pandemic as the reason for the 25% dip in sales.

"Just from 35 years in the business, that's the only thing I can put my finger on," Hamill said.

Hamill advises drivers to get their vehicle checked if they are planning on a long road trip.

Adam Hamill, the manager of Midas of Lake Worth, says they have not been as busy this week as they would be in a normal year.
Adam Hamill, the manager of Midas of Lake Worth, says they have not been as busy this week as they would be in a normal year.

"If they're driving across the state, you want to make sure your oil levels are right and fluids are good, air pressure is right and check your spare tire," Hamill said.

The CDC said your chances of getting COVID-19 while traveling also depends on whether you and those around you take steps to protect yourself and others, such as wearing masks and staying 6 feet away from people outside your household.

In addition to CDC guidance, travelers should also be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders.

Scripps Only Content 2020