WISCONSIN — Thanksgiving travel could set new records this year, including air travel in Wisconsin. 

The American Automobile Association predicts around 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this year for Thanksgiving. While local and national travel totals are expected to be 1% short of 2019's levels, air travel in Wisconsin could set a record high this year. 

For Thanksgiving 2022 in Wisconsin, AAA predicts:

  • 957,872 people will travel by car, which is more than the 954,673 people in 2021
  • 106,895 people will travel by plane, a jump from the 97,333 in 2021
  • 29,628 people will use "other modes" of transportation, another jump from 23,951 in 2021

In 2019, 1.15 million Wisconsinites traveled for Thanksgiving. This year, AAA predicts 1,094,395 residents will hit the road or fly to their destinations. 

“Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays. Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

Despite higher gas prices this year, 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers will drive. AAA forecasts 48.65 million Americans will set out for a holiday road trip. That’s 203,000 more drivers than last year, according to AAA.

On Monday, Wisconsin drivers paid an average price of $3.59 per gallon. That’s 48 cents more than last Thanksgiving ($3.11).

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by spending less on a hotel, shopping or dining out.”

Best and worst times to travel

Wednesday, Nov. 23

  • Best time: Before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • Worst time: Between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 24

  • Best time: Before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
  • Worst time: Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 25

  • Best time: Before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • Worst time: Between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 26

  • Best time: Before 2 p.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • Worst time: Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 27

  • Before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • Worst time: Between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.