Get ready for gridlocked roads and crowded airports.
With Florida tourism already booming, this week’s holiday will see some of the highest Thanksgiving travel volumes on record, according to AAA — The Auto Club Group.
More than 55 million Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, AAA said. Nearly 2.9 million of those travelers are Floridians.
That would make 2019 the second-busiest Thanksgiving travel week on record, behind only 2005. Compared to Thanksgiving 2018, 1.6 million more people will travel for this year’s holiday, AAA said.
Most travelers — 49 million — are driving to their Thanksgiving destinations, and highway traffic is expected to be at its busiest from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, as leisure travelers mix in with commuters.
Travel analysts advise getting to your destination before Wednesday’s rush hour.
“Leave early if you can — maybe even a day early,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins.
The combination of low gas prices, a robust job market and a strong economy have emboldened Americans to travel more than ever this year. Florida pump prices averaged $2.36 a gallon over the weekend, AAA said Monday, down slightly from an average of $2.43 for the same date in 2018.
While most people will travel by car, millions are expected to fly, too. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is expecting record traffic of nearly 800,000 passengers for Thanksgiving week.
That would be up 6.8 percent from last year, said airport spokesman Greg Meyer.
In addition to Florida residents moving around the state for the holiday, Florida is expected to draw tourists from out of state, AAA said. Orlando is the top destination for Thanksgiving travelers nationally, while Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Miami also are in the top 10.
Amid strong demand for rental cars, rates rose to their highest level ever for Thanksgiving. Travelers can expect to shell out $75 a day for rental vehicles, AAA said.
Travelers who want to avoid crowds can travel on Thursday. That’s when the fewest people are on the roads and airfares are cheapest, AAA said.