Holiday travel expected to set records this year

Holiday travel records expected
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 5:28 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - With Thanksgiving just under a week away, many people are hitting the roads now to beat the holiday traffic. In addition, a new non-stop flight could change holiday travel in the future.

AAA says this year’s national Thanksgiving travel forecast is projected to be the third-highest since they began tracking holiday travel in 2000, with an increase of 2.3% from last year.

“We are back to the normal range that we were seeing before the pandemic.” Says AAA Director of Public Affairs Nick Jarmusz. “So that does really show, in terms of the effect on travel, it’s really in the rearview mirror. People are getting back to their normal travel patterns.”

In Wisconsin, it’s also expected to be the third highest, with 1.1 million Wisconsinites traveling 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s a 2.4% increase from last year.

AAA also reports air travel this holiday season in Wisconsin is expected to be about 8% higher compared to 2022. Nick Jarmusz says one of those factors is Wisconsin adding more direct flights, making air travel more attractive.

With that in mind, Appleton International Airport and Allegiant Air announced new non-stop flights from Appleton to New York on Friday. Airport Director Abe Weber says this is the first time they have ever connected the region to New York or even the northeast.

“So I think we’re going to be able to capture a lot of those people now on these nonstop flights.” Says Weber. “Now it’s operating May 17, it’s going to be Mondays and Fridays, so it’s a great schedule for a week-long vacation or just a long weekend.”

Weber says they’re seeing a record year in 2023 as well this holiday season, with the number of air travelers up 19%. With gun-deer season opening Saturday, even hunters are getting in on the action.

“Americans love to travel, especially around the holidays.” Said Jarmusz. “They want to travel and see friends and family. If they have the means and they feel comfortable spending the money necessary to do so, we know they’re going to.”

The busiest travel days before Thanksgiving are the Wednesday before and the Monday after. Jarmusz says to try and avoid those prime dates and times when everyone else is traveling so that you can arrive on time at your final destination