Sergio Avila

Fewer Americans Traveling This Thanksgiving amid Pandemic

AAA Northern California advises caution and preparation for those who decide to travel

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (November 12, 2020) – Travel on Thanksgiving will be on the lighter side this year as AAA Northern California anticipates a 10% drop in travel nationwide -- the most extensive one year decrease since the 2008 Great Recession.

AAA Northern California expects up to 6.2 million Californians to travel for Thanksgiving -- a drop from about 7.2 million in 2019. However, the number of travelers may be even lower as Americans monitor and respond to the public health landscape.

For those who decide to travel for Thanksgiving, the afternoon of Wednesday November 25th is expected to see the heaviest traffic increase at around 30% above normal pandemic congestion levels. 

California 2020 Thanksgiving Travel Trips

Automobile: 5,783,319

Air: 435,584

Bus, Train, Cruise: 47,039

Total: 6,265,942

“The wait-and-see approach travel trend continues to impact travel decisions,” said Sergio Avila, AAA Northern California Spokesperson. “The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure.”

  • Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about any restrictions that may be in place.
  • Follow public health guidance. Consistent use of face masks, physically distancing, and regular hand washing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. 
  • Verify before you go. Call ahead to any hotel stay and ask about protocols and safety requirements.  
  • Helpful AAA resources. Visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. Use to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels are open along your route.

On the Road
AAA expects to rescue more than 413,000 Americans nationwide over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. Drivers should ensure their vehicles are road-ready before embarking on a road trip. Drive to a AAA Auto Repair Center throughout California or try the newest Mobile Auto Check up from AAA (available in Sacramento) that brings AAA auto experts to the Member's home. Drivers can find more information on AAA Auto Services online.

About AAA Northern California

AAA has a proud history of serving Members for over 100 years. AAA is on a mission to create Members for life by unleashing the innovative spirit of 4,000 employees representing 6 million Members across Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. In addition to legendary roadside assistance, AAA offers home, auto and life insurance, and extraordinary travel services. According to Via Magazine's Smart Guide, being a AAA Member can save you more than $1,200 a year. Learn more at