This holiday season is predicted to be one of the busiest on record, and one of the priciest. AAA projects more than 54 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, the third busiest period since the agency started tracking data in 2000.
Husband and wife Kevin Tellie and Becky Kiley are joining the estimated 49 million Americans hitting the road this week. “Thanksgiving we’re driving up to Minneapolis from Chicago,” says Tellie. If you’re driving this week, the traffic analytics company Inrix recommends leaving early in the morning on Wednesday, before 11a.m. on Thanksgiving and not driving between 4-8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
AAA says 4.5 million people will fly to their Thanksgiving destination, despite higher ticket prices. Priceline estimates domestic flights this holiday season are 15% more expensive than last year and international airfares are 20% pricier. “Clearly fuel prices are up over 50% versus even a year ago. And of course, just inflation in general, the cost to staff the airlines, the cost to service the planes, all lead to higher airline prices,” says Priceline CEO Brett Keller.
But that’s not keeping travelers from taking the vacations they desire. According to Priceline, hot holiday destinations include New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Orlando. Internationally, Europe, Tokyo, Dubai and the Caribbean make the list.
In Aruba, arrival numbers are setting records above pre-pandemic levels, according to the Tourism Authority. At the Renaissance Wind Creek, which has a private island where flamingos room free, more than 80% of rooms are already booked for the holidays, with most ocean suites sold out.
It’s a similar situation at the Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino where CBS News Correspondent Wendy Gillette stayed for a reduced rate. It’s almost 95% sold out for the holidays. “There was a lot of pent-up demand,” says Raoul Lemmerling, the complex general manager of Aruba Marriotts. “People had to wait to travel for about two years. We have a lot of regular guests who’ve been coming to Aruba for many years.”
Hotel rates for international destinations are a better bet than those closer to home. According to Priceline, holiday prices are up 7% in the U.S. from last year but have stayed flat overseas.