This Thanksgiving, 55.3 million people are expected to travel by car, plane and train in the United States, according to AAA.
That’s 1.6 million more travelers than a year ago, or a 2.9 percent increase. This year’s Thanksgiving travel is expected to be the second highest on record since AAA began tracking it in 2000, surpassed only by 2005.
AAA reports that 2019 should be the 11 straight year of increasing travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 27-Dec. 1.
The organization attributes growing holiday travel to broader economic trends: strong consumer spending, low unemployment and improved disposable income.
INRIX, a transportation analytics company based in Kirkland, expects the afternoon of Nov. 27, one day before Thanksgiving, to be the worst travel period nationally, with auto trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metropolitan areas.
AAA breaks holiday travel into three general categories:
• Auto travel is the most common mode for holiday excursions, with 89.3 percent of holiday travelers taking to the roads. Auto travel is forecast to increase by 2.8 percent from 2018, to 49.3 million people this year.
• Air travel is the second most popular form of holiday travel, accounting for 8 percent. Air travel is expected to see the biggest increase, 4.6 percent from 2018, with 4.45 million Americans flying to reach holiday destinations.
• Travel by all other modes, including trains and buses, accounts for the remaining 2.7 percent of holiday travel. This travel is expected to increase to 1.49 million people this year, a 1.4 percent increase from 2018.
Although train travel doesn’t represent a large share of total holiday travel, Amtrak is encouraging riders to book early for the Amtrak Cascades route. The Cascades route connects Vancouver, B.C., to Eugene, Ore., and provides service to 16 Washington and Oregon cities between those two points.
Olivia Irvin, Amtrak’s public relations manager in Oakland, Calif., said more than 20,000 passengers traveled on Amtrak Cascades trains during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 19-25.
That represents a 60 percent increase in ridership compared with other travel times.
Similar passenger spikes are expected this year, on Nov. 27 before Thanksgiving and on Dec. 1 afterward. Several trains already are sold out for Nov. 27.
Ticketing and reservations are available on Amtrak.com or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.
Boarding documents can be self-printed or customers using a smartphone or other mobile device can present the eTicket to the conductor by opening a document in their email.
All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations.