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Auto Club: Fewer People Traveling This Thanksgiving


Editors: Video soundbites of Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe discussing the forecast are available for your use here.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push down the number of Southern Californians traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday by more than 13 percent compared to last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. That’s the largest year-over-year decline since the 2008 recession, which caused a 26 percent drop in Thanksgiving travel.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and economic concerns, are impacting Americans’ decisions to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Air travel and other modes of transportation such as cruises, buses and trains are the most impacted by the pandemic. The vast majority of Southern California residents who are planning to travel – 92 percent – will do so by car. In 2019, 86 percent of local Thanksgiving travelers drove to their destinations.

By the numbers: 2020 Thanksgiving travel forecast

Thanksgiving chart 2020

“This Thanksgiving will be different than in past years. Rather than spending time indoors with friends and family, many people may choose to spend the holiday with their own households or take road trips to enjoy time in the great outdoors,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Because so many destinations, tours and cruises are not available this year, members are contacting our travel agents to book trips in 2021 and 2022, when they anticipate they will be able to vacation more safely.”

With COVID-19 cases surging in many parts of the country, the Auto Club reminds those who choose to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday to know the risks and minimize  them by taking the following steps:

  • Bring along enough personal protective gear and hand sanitizer for all those traveling for each day of travel, as well as a thermometer to monitor your health.
  • Bring cleaning supplies to wipe down surfaces in locations where you stay overnight.
  • Use protective barriers such as plastic baggies or gloves to open doors, fill up the gas tank, or touch any other surfaces in public places. Throw them away after use.
  • Minimize your travel stops by bringing along your own snacks, food, and drinks. Use drive-throughs or curbside pickup at restaurants if you do stop.
  • When visiting family members or friends, or when making travel stops, remember to socially distance, wear masks, and frequently wash your hands.
  • Know the COVID-19 restrictions along the route you will be traveling and at your destination. You can quickly access them by mapping out your route at and using the COVID-19 restrictions feature.
  • Before you head out, be sure your vehicle is ready for the trip to avoid a breakdown along the way. AAA expects to rescue more than 413,000 Americans at the roadside this Thanksgiving. AAA makes it easy to request assistance – by phone, app or online – and members can track the service technician’s progress as they make their way to your vehicle.

INRIX Predicts Wednesday Afternoon to See Peak Traffic

Traffic volume is expected to be lower than in years past, but travelers in major urban areas will experience increased delays at popular bottlenecks. INRIX expects Wednesday afternoon to see the highest volume of traffic.

“Though fewer people will be traveling this Thanksgiving, we expect more holiday drivers than we had over the recent summer holidays during COVID-19,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Drivers should plan alternate routes and departure times to avoid traffic jams.”

INRIX predicts the top traffic congestion spots in Los Angeles will be:

INRIX Thanksgiving 2020


AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 29.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. For the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding local COVID-19-related restrictions as well as the national case count and trend.

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

About IHS Markit
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.




Media Contacts

Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632
Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.