Written by by Catherine Best, CNN
According to the latest travel statistics from the National Retail Federation , last year Thanksgiving dropped under the annual holiday season and saw a 5% drop in shoppers.
It’s far from the first year a Thanksgiving holiday has seen decreased shopping, but NRF’s 2018 holiday forecast suggests a spike in travel numbers this year.
As it was in 2018, Thanksgiving will see a greater number of people traveling — a rise of 4.5% overall, with an additional 5.5% of Americans traveling to their destinations during the holiday season. But this year, the travel industry is excited by the chances of a bumper holiday weekend.
While these are largely ballpark figures, one thing is clear: while a drop in shoppers might be expected to impact this year’s holiday season, not all consumers are viewing the shopping debate as a reason to cancel plans to be in the air or on the road.
But which trip is expected to be the most popular this year?
Here are the key travel trends from the National Retail Federation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
High ticket prices
Average airfares are expected to be up 10% year-on-year, the most since 2012, with flights above $300. According to Todd Lowenstein, managing director of Lowenstein Sandler, it is due to “rising fuel prices,” which will affect both airlines and tourism dependent on air travel.
“The good news is that winter has never been cheap, and the math just hasn’t been good enough for airlines to cut back on flights, both here in the US and all over the world,” he says.
On the road
Diesel prices have increased by 8% during the first quarter of 2019, which lower consumption and prices when compared to the previous year. Lowenstein believes that this could prove to be a down-payment for the holiday season and tips consumers to “defer their visits to the airport until the last minute.”
And while gas prices will certainly be falling later this year, Americans will still have to pay to take to the air or drive this fall, with US average gasoline prices currently 2% higher than last year.
The concept of peak travel is no longer limited to the busiest times of the year, but is now the start and the end, as Americans become increasingly travel-dependent.
“Everything goes through a seasonal cycle of people choosing different ways to travel, and we know during peak travel season,” Lowenstein says.
Alternative modes of transportation
When it comes to using mass transit, a quarter of the public now prefer it over car travel. This is expected to continue until 2030.
Expect to see more government buses and trains increase services and more coaches enter the market; one billion people will use Uber in 2020, which is an increase of 30% over last year. According to Tristan Walker, founder of Walker & Company Brands, this is evidence of the positive effects of Uber driving down car ownership, and has inspired more people to leave their vehicles at home.
The online travel agency, Travelocity, is also expecting a surge in bookings for rental car companies, as many travelers look to find a less expensive way to get to their destination. It predicts that rental cars will be 70% more affordable than they were in 2012, and expects that Uber will surpass petrol and diesel cars in demand this year.
Going for Thanksgiving? Don’t buy too early. Luckily, earlier is better, especially in cases of last-minute group bookings. This is because sellers are looking to make a little bit of money on the holiday and are more likely to offer discounted rates.
Don’t miss out on your great American road trip by booking one piece of luggage a year, as this will save you hours on the road and also extend your winter sunshine…
Lastly, are you a newbie? New roads can be much slower, but it is also much less congested, so it’s likely to be more fun.