4 Reasons Most Thanksgiving Travelers Will Drive This Year

If you’ve ever traveled on or around Thanksgiving, you know how crowded it can be. Whether you’re driving on the road or walking through an airport to your terminal, the Thanksgiving season is one of the most popular times to travel in America, so these locations are very crowded. However, a recent survey determined that the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive this year. Normally multiple forms of transportation are used quite frequently. In 2022, 80% of Thanksgiving travelers will take their cars.

80% of Thanksgiving travelers will drive

The 2023 Kia K5 features luxury amenities like wireless device charging. Most thanksgiving travelers will drive this year.
2023 Kia K5 | Kia

According to Cars.com, it conducted a nationwide survey regarding consumers’ Thanksgiving plans. It received over 1,800 responses, and 61% plan to travel somehow. However, 80% of those travelers are driving to their destination in a car, truck, or SUV and staying within 50 miles of home. There are a few reasons people are staying close to home and choosing to travel by car.

Staying close to home

Can electric cars be hotwired? Most thanksgiving travelers will drive this year.
The steering wheel of a Mercedes EQC 400 electric SUV | Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

The first reason most Thanksgiving travelers will drive this year is that they’re staying close to home. Even for people who are going somewhere else to celebrate, they’re not straying too far from their usual location. 40% of people deciding to travel somewhere else for Thanksgiving are staying within 20 miles of their home. An additional 25% aren’t going further than between 21 and 50 miles from their home. Many are staying nearby due to higher costs for just about everything limiting possibilities.

Cars.com says 58% of respondents said they don’t usually travel for Thanksgiving anyway. However, the big kicker is that 24% say higher gas costs or rising daily expenses are their main reasons for choosing to experience the holiday from home (or nearby). Surprisingly, gas prices are down nearly 25% from the record-high numbers over the summer. Unfortunately, travel costs and rising inflation are challenging for many travelers as they attempt to navigate holiday travel.

Saving money, skipping the flight

An airplane as a form of aviation, which a Ford patent reveals an EV charging method inspired by aviation. Most thanksgiving travelers will drive this year.
Airplane | Getty Images

Continuing along the same reasoning for most people driving, money is the main reason they’ve chosen not to fly. According to Cars.com, half the respondents said they usually fly and prefer it but will be driving due to the high air travel costs, but high costs aren’t the only reason not to travel by plane. 20% of drivers say they prefer to fly but are concerned about flight disruptions.

Similarly, 48% of respondents said they’d experienced weather delays, and 35% said flights had been canceled altogether. As a result, they’re choosing to skip the flight and do what keeps them in control of their trip, drive. Driving is more affordable than flying, depending on the distance, and gives the driver complete control over the journey. Traffic is still a wild card, but usually a lot more predictable than an airport.

Roadtripping in their new EV

A person's hand connecting a high-speed electric charger to an electric vehicle's upgraded long range battery pack.
Charging an EV | Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

Next, of the respondents traveling by car, 18% say they will make a trip using an EV. That’s a massive amount more than the 10% who said so on Cars.com’s Labor Day travel survey. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re over range anxiety just yet. 66% of the drivers taking EVs say they’re worried about running out of power during their travels.

86% of the drivers traveling by EV say they planned their trip around charging stations. Finding charging stations online ahead of time is a great way to plan a trip. It ensures safe places to charge your vehicle along the route beforehand. Alternatively, 50% of drivers said finding charging stations along the route is convenient.

Bringing the kids and pets

Lastly, it’s much easier to travel with kids and pets using your car. Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive this year because they’re bringing kids, pets, or both. 42% of Cars.com’s survey respondents say they will travel with children, while 8% are bringing pets. Of them, 56% require car seats for their kids, and 34% say it’s far easier to drive than fly with them tagging along.

Moreover, pets are the reason 28% of respondents are driving instead of flying altogether. We get it; we couldn’t leave our dogs at home either.

Most Thanksgiving travelers will drive

In conclusion, most Thanksgiving travelers will drive this year. Taking your car on a shorter road trip reduces stress for everyone. It’s easier to stay close to home in a car, saving money on a flight is always a plus, trying out the new EV on a road trip can’t wait, and bringing your kids or pets is unavoidable. For many reasons, this holiday season will be filled with car travelers. If you’re planning to drive close to Thanksgiving, be prepared for busy, traffic-filled roads along your route. And watch for the pets in the backseat of 8% of those cars.

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