COLUMBIA – With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the travel industry is looking like it’s going to be on a huge upswing this year.
For the first time since COVID-19 decimated the travel industry, travel numbers are predicted to reach levels they have in the past.
According to AAA, 53.4 million people are projected to be traveling for the holiday with the largest portion of this increase coming from air travel.
AAA Missouri spokesperson Nick Chabarria said this year’s forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005.
Overall, this is 13% increase in total travel and an 80% increase in air travel alone, thus putting travel amounts within 5% of 2019 numbers. In Missouri alone, there is a 13% change in travel volumes as compared to last year.
Don Redman, the public affairs specialist for AAA Missouri, said this increase, especially in the air travel, is largely powered by the response of consumers.
“It talks to the volume about the economy rebounding. People feel confident in being able to fly and afford to be able to fly,” Redman said.
But this increase in air travel is not to discredit the volume of travelers on the roads.
“Over 48 million people will be on the roadways nationwide for the holiday,” Redman said.
With this many people on the move, Chabarria stressed the importance of staying proactive, patient, prepared and protected. For Missouri drivers, this means booking things in advance, leaving early and planning for any bumps in the road that may arise.
According to Redman, the most important piece is going to be patience.
“You’re going to have a lot of patience as a consumer, as a traveler, patience with the hotel staff, patience with the waitstaff at the restaurants,” Redman said.
With the increased travel volumes this year, there will more than likely be long lines, extended waits and potential stress for travelers this year, but it might make the holidays feel a bit more normal as well.