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AAA: Thanksgiving travel nearing pre-pandemic levels

AAA says inflation and higher gas prices haven't influenced Michiganders' travel plans this holiday season, with 1.7 million expected to travel next week.

MICHIGAN, USA — Nearly three years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thanksgiving travel is nearing pre-pandemic levels. AAA is predicting about 1.7 million Michiganders will be traveling for the holiday next week between Wednesday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 27.

AAA has been tracking holiday travel numbers since 2000—and this year could be the third busiest Thanksgiving travel season in Michigan.

“Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays. Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

Despite higher gas prices and inflation, about 89% of holiday travelers will drive, with 1.5 million of those in Michigan. This is an increase compared to 2021.

Fluctuating gas prices may also be poised to set a new record for highest prices on Thanksgiving. The most recent record was set in 2012 at $3.61 per gallon. This week, Michiganders have been paying about $4 per gallon. 

These higher prices aren't impacting travel, however.

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said AAA spokesperson Adrienne Woodland. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by spending less on a hotel, shopping or dining out.”

AAA says if you're looking to save money on your Thanksgiving trip, shopping around for the best gas prices can bring some relief at the pump. 

Travelers are also encouraged to leave early to avoid traffic jams and delays next week.

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