December 2, 2020


  • Travel rates this Thanksgiving will be down across the board, but those who elect to travel will largely do it by driving, according to AAA.
  • Traffic and road congestion will be lighter than in years previous, but those in urban areas can expect heavier-than-normal delays in bottleneck areas.
  • Traffic in urban areas is expected to peak the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Traditionally, the days around Thanksgiving are the ones that would see some of the heaviest travel in the United States. But thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travel will be a lot lighter this year.

With positive COVID-19 cases on the rise and renewed, tighter quarantine restrictions, AAA believes anticipates at least a 10% decrease in travel from 2019 — the “largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008,” it said.

AAA predicts that all forms of travel — whether via cars, planes, buses, trains, and cruises — will decrease this year compared to last year. Bus, train, and cruise travel will fall from 1.5 million passengers last year to 353,000 this year, a 76.2% decrease; air travel will fall from 4.6 million passengers to 2.4 million, a 47.5% decrease; and car travel will dip slightly from 49.9 million to 47.8 million, a 4.3% decrease.

Road trips dominate

“Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns and high unemployment, are impacting Americans’ decisions to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday,” Julie Hall, AAA’s public relations manager, told Business Insider. “Those who decide to travel are likely to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away, making road trips the dominant form of travel this Thanksgiving.”

So if you’re the type of dread holiday travel traffic, you can expect less of it this year.

But those living in major urban areas won’t be so lucky. AAA projects increased delays at typical bottleneck areas of “up to 30% above normal pandemic congestion levels,” Hall said, citing transportation analytics company Inrix’s prediction that Wednesday afternoon will have the highest traffic volume.

holiday travel 2020

AAA and INRIX’s predictions for the busiest corridors during this Thanksgiving.

Screenshot via AAA

Just be sure your car is travel ready so it won’t break down on the way. AAA said it “expects to rescue more than 413,000 Americans at the roadside this Thanksgiving.”

Know the risks

Knowing the risks involved is important to those choosing to travel this holiday. 

AAA highly recommends planning ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along the route you’re planning on taking, and at your destination to find out about any potential restrictions that could be in effect.

And follow public health guidelines! Wear a mask consistently, follow social distancing protocols (at least six feet), and wash your hands regularly. Holidays can mean interstate travel and seeing relatives in close quarters, so it’s worth bearing some caution in mind. Bring extra face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer so you can monitor your health.

If you’re staying in


*Average savings as calculated by the J.D. Power “2017-2019 Insurance Shopping Study as of April 2019.” See affordable-auto-insurance. See also, The study is based on responses from more than 14,400 insurance customers who requested an auto insurance price quote from at least one competitive insurer in the past nine months and includes more than 38,800 unique customer evaluations of insurers. The study was fielded in April, July and October 2018 and January 2019. Products and their features may not be available in all states. All policies are subject to policy terms, underwriting, guidelines and applicable laws.

Insurance premium does not include the price of Membership. Insurance products in California offered through AAA Northern California Insurance Agency, License #0175868, in Nevada by AAA Nevada, in Utah by AAA Utah, in Arizona through AAA Arizona, Inc., License #8301727, Montana through AAA Montana, Inc., License #9756, and in Wyoming through AAA Mountain West Inc., License No. 172603. The provider of AAA Auto and Home Insurance is CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer. All policies are subject to policy terms, underwriting, guidelines and applicable laws. Multipolicy and other discounts vary based upon eligibility. Discounts not cumulative; certain restrictions apply.

A.M. Best Ratings located at

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Spike in Finance Costs Drives Increase

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 12, 2019) – It’s going to cost more for those looking to buy a new car this year. Finance costs on new car purchases have jumped 24% in 2019, according to new AAA research, pushing the average annual cost of vehicle ownership to $9,282, or $773.50 a month. That’s the highest cost associated with new vehicle ownership since AAA began tracking expenses in 1950 and a reminder that the true costs of owning a vehicle extend far beyond maintenance and fuel.

“Finance costs accounted for more than 40% of the total increase in average vehicle ownership costs,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director for Automotive Engineering & Repair. “AAA found finance charges rose more sharply in the last 12 months than any major expense associated with owning a vehicle.”

Additional Resources

The spike in finance charges – which rose from $744 to $920, a nearly $200 increase — was fueled by rising federal interest rates and higher vehicle prices. It comes as 72-month car loans have become increasingly common – meaning car buyers are paying more, and longer, for vehicles that lose value the moment they’re sold. Long-term loans offer lower monthly car payments, but they ultimately cost the consumer more. AAA found that, on average, every 12 months added to the life of a loan adds nearly $1,000 in total finance charges.

“Smaller monthly payments may be tempting to potential buyers, but they can add big costs in the long run,” Nielsen said.

The new figures come from Your Driving Costs, which reviews nine categories of vehicles – consisting of 45 models – to determine the average annual operating and ownership costs of each. AAA focuses on top-selling, mid-priced models and compares them across six expense categories: fuel prices; maintenance/repair/tire costs; insurance rates; license/registration/taxes; depreciation; and finance charges. Annual average costs increased in each category.

Of all costs, depreciation, a measure of how quickly a car loses value, remains the single biggest cost of ownership, accounting for more than a third (36%) of the average annual cost. It slowed a bit this year, with vehicles included in the study losing an average of $3,334 a year, up $45 – or 1.4% – from last year. In 2018, depreciation rose by $117, or 3.7%. In two vehicle classes this year – small and medium sedans – depreciation costs actually declined.

Other key findings of this year’s Your Driving Costs include:

  • Average fuel cost rose to 11.6 cents per mile, 5% higher than last year. The per-mile increase was driven by gasoline prices, which are up 15.6 cents per gallon over the timeframe covered by the study. Electricity prices for EV charging also rose 0.1 cent per kilowatt-hour (0.08%), but the market share of the electric vehicles in the study (0.48%) makes the effect of this increase on the overall average fuel cost negligible. Fuel costs vary widely by vehicle type, ranging from a low of 3.65 cents per mile