Michigan Thanksgiving travel expected to be highest in 3 years

Posted at 5:47 AM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 08:02:38-05

More than 1.7 million Michiganders are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, according to a new holiday forecast from AAA Michigan.

That number is forecasted to be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel since 2000 and is just shy of pre-pandemic levels. AAA said 54.6 million Americans will travel for the holidays in all.

“Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays. Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

According to AAA, about 89% of Thanksgiving travelers will drive, and in Michigan, it's expected to be just over 1.5 million travelers. They forecast 167,000 air travelers and about 46,000 travelers in other forms of transportation.

The 2022 forecast of 1,716,663 is the highest since 1,786,121 in 2019.

Gas prices are also expected to set a new record high for the holiday. Previously, the Thanksgiving record price in Michigan was $3.61 per gallon, and the statewide average is just over $4 per gallon as of Monday.

“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by spending less on a hotel, shopping or dining out.”

The busiest corridor in metro Detroit for Thanksgiving travel is US-23 North from 8 Mile to Lee Rd. with 32% more traffic. The busiest time on that road is Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Below you'll see the worst travel times and the best travel times.

DateWorst Travel TimeBest Travel Time
11/23/2211 a.m. to 8 p.m.Before 8 a.m., after 8 p.m.
11/24/2211 a.m. to 3 p.m.Before 11 a.m., after 3 p.m.
11/25/224 p.m. to 8 p.m.Before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.
11/26/224 p.m. to 8 p.m.Before 2 p.m., after 8 p.m.
11/27/224 p.m. to 8 p.m.Before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.