As Drivers Hit the Road for Thanksgiving, Rising Gas Prices Weigh on Plans

thanksgiving-travel-infographic-2021 illustration by Paul Dolan |

More Americans are planning to travel this Thanksgiving than last, according to a recent survey, and the vast majority of survey respondents plan on driving to their destination. However, rising gas prices and coronavirus concerns are impacting travel plans.

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More than half of respondents (57%) said they plan to travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. That’s a 46% increase versus 2021, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans not to travel or gather for the holiday amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 6 in 10 of those traveling this year are going farther than usual, with 34% journeying more than 100 miles.

Most survey respondents (84%) who are traveling for Thanksgiving said they’ll be driving. Even so, gas prices, which have been rising for the past year, are factoring into respondents’ travel decisions: Among those surveyed, 50% said gas prices have some impact on their travel plans, and 12% said they won’t drive if gas prices get any higher.

Traveling with young children brings its own set of challenges. Of the 36% of survey respondents who said they have kids in car seats, nearly two-thirds said it played a role in their decision to drive.

The pandemic is also still influencing Thanksgiving travel plans this year. Among respondents not traveling, 24% cited it as a reason they’re staying home, second only to those who said they don’t normally travel for Thanksgiving (49%). Additionally, 21% of survey takers said they’re not traveling this year because they can’t afford it.

For those who are traveling for Thanksgiving, 70% plan on visiting family at a relative’s home, and 36% are headed to the southeastern United States. The next most popular region is the Mid-Atlantic with 17% of respondents headed there.

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About This Survey’s Thanksgiving travel survey was fielded Nov. 1 and received 1,010 responses. Survey respondents identified as 40% male and 60% female, and ranged in ages from 18-34 (33%), 35-54 (49%) and 55-plus (18%).

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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