AAA forecasts Thanksgiving travel numbers approaching pre-pandemic level


AAA is projecting that more than 145,000 Delawareans will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of more than 12% over last year –   just shy of pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travelers in 2019.

Travelers will see high gas prices, despite a recent drop in crude oil prices. The average price at the pump in Delaware is holding steady at  $3.33 a gallon. 

As usual, the vast majority of travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting that more than 130,000 Delawareans will be hitting the road, up more than 8% over last year.

Compared to last year, the bounce back in travel is in keeping with the findings of a new AAApoll of Delaware residents. Only 6% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a significant risk for Covid-19. This is in contrast to a similar poll last year where more than 39% felt holiday travel posed significant risk for Covid.

“Both the Thanksgiving travel projections and the results of AAA’s statewide poll tell the same story. Thanksgiving travelers see Covid in the rearview mirror, and they are looking forward to returning to the pre-pandemic tradition of gathering with family and friends,” says Jana Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Travelers should expect – and plan for – both the roadways and airports to be as busy as ever.”

AAA is projecting more than 9,700 Delawareans will take flights, an increase of nearly 80% over last year.

AAA is projecting that nearly 2,000 Delawareans will travel by bus, train, or some other mode of transportation over the holiday weekend, up 250% over last year when travel in a group setting was by far as low as it has been since AAA has been keeping records.

AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday as the five days from Wednesday, November 24 – Sunday, November 28.

2021 Projected Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers – Delaware


Total Population

2021 Travelers

Percent of population traveling

Percent change vs. 2020

Delaware TOTAL

Auto, Air & Other

973, 764*




Delaware Auto

91.9% of people travel by car




Delaware Air

6.7% of people travel by air









National TOTAL

329.4 million*

53.4 million



National Auto


90.3% of people travel by car

48.3 million



National Air


7.8% of people travel by air

4.2 million




*U.S. Census Bureau/IHS Global Insight (v2019)

AAA’s National Travel Projections

The return of Delawareans to near pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travel mirrors national trends.

AAA predicts that 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020, with 90% (48.3 million) taking to the roads. While that is the biggest year-over-year bounce in Thanksgiving travel since 2005 nationwide, the overall travel volume still lags 2019 by about 5%.


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