Thanksgiving 2013 travel is TripAdvisor up or AAA down

TripAdvisor and AAA both published survey data on Thanksgiving travel giving widely different pictures of travel trends in the USA for next week.

TripAdvisor posted its story on their blog November 12: Survey Thanksgiving Travel, Spending Up stating Thanksgiving 2013 travel is projected to be up 7% from last year. I did not even realize TripAdvisor had a blog.

Here are data points from TripAdvisor:

  • 39% of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving (up 7% from 2012).
  • 37% of travelers will fly. 57% will drive.
  • 46% of travelers plan to spend more on travel this Thanksgiving than last year.
  • 44% of travelers plan to spend the same as last year.
  • 14% plan to spend more than $3,000.
  • 21% plan to spend between $1,000 and $2,999.
  • 23% plan to spend $500 to $999.
  • 16% will eat in a restaurant on Thanksgiving.
  • Not Everyone Staying at Mom’s While 44% of those traveling for Thanksgiving plan to stay at the home of family or friends, 34% will hunker down in a hotel, and eight percent will rest in a vacation rental.

AAA Thanksgiving Survey

The American Automobile Association released its annual survey of Thanksgiving travel on November 20: AAA: 43.4 Million Americans to Travel for Thanksgiving, a Slight Decline from Last Year.

  • 43.4 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Thanksgiving Holiday Season is defined as Wednesday to Sunday, November 27-December 1, 2013.
  • Last year there were 44.0 million travelers making a 1.5% decline in 2013.
  • 90% of travelers, 38.9 million will travel by car.
  • Median spending expected to drop 7% to $465 compared to $498 in 2012.
  • Holiday air travel declines 3.7% to 3.14 million passengers. 2012 was 3.26 million.
  • Average lowest round-trip economy fare at 40 busiest US airports = $187. 2012 was $188.
  • Wednesday, November 27 is busiest travel day with 37% of travelers on the road and in the air that day.
  • 1.4 million travelers on bus, rail and cruise ship.
  • Weekend car rental rates average $50 per day compared to $47 in 2012.

Thanksgiving is the cheapest holiday for American travelers.

Holiday spend is an interesting insight from AAA. I never really thought about Thanksgiving as being a cheap holiday.

  1. Labor Day = $804
  2. Independence Day = $749
  3. Memorial Day = $659
  4. Thanksgiving = $465

44% of traveler plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holidays with Black Friday sales on Friday, November 29.

Thanksgiving Hotel Rates

Rates are essentially the same in 2013 compared to last year with $142 average rate for AAA 3-Diamond lodging. 2012 was $143.

AAA 2-Diamond lodging $105 in 2013. 2012 was $104.

This looks to me like people are overpaying. Aside from New York with the big parade, most urban cities in the USA have some of the best deals of the year during Thanksgiving week. San Francisco has spent most of 2013 sitting in one of the few positions like Miami and Boston behind New York City for high hotel rates.

There have been many of the upper upscale hotels in San Francisco available over the past two weeks like the big Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, InterContinental and Hyatt hotels in the $100 to $140 range. Hotels in the top tier like Taj, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis have been in the $250 to $400 range. These rates are well below average rates for these hotels in 2013.

Sheraton SF BRG

$116 for Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf on should be Best Rate Guarantee eligible. Starwood site shows $129.

Sheraton SF SPG

$116 Expedia v. $129 Starwood on Friday 11/29.

Starwood Best Rate Guarantee.

10% off = $104.40 per night


2,000 Starpoints and $116 rate.

I am wishing local readers and all travelers a good Thanksgiving week and Black Friday dreams.


About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Imy profession is applied math and statistics. Trip Advisor survey sampling has a heavy bias.

    Those who would go onto trip adviser are oing to be people likely traveling to someplace where they will need to stay at a hotel. They didn’t factor in distance into travel.

    Thanksgivng is cheaper because many travelers are staying with family thus no hotel costs. With other holidays are family vacation time so it’s going to have more airfare and hotel costs.

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