Surprise, Surprise: A Ton of People Are Planning to Travel for the Holidays

Plus, most Americans say they don’t have much faith in airlines right now.

Halloween is over, pumpkins are being composted. And even if you aren’t someone who cues Mariah Carey’s holiday theme song as soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 1, you are already thinking about holiday travel. And that’s going to be necessary, considering that two different studies are predicting that the majority of Americans will be traveling this season.

According to a survey conducted by Motel 6 of 2,000 Americans, 84% of respondents plan to travel to at least one gathering this year, with at least 52% of respondents expecting to take multiple trips this year. In another survey conducted by The Vacationer, which polled 1,013 Americans, 67.23% of respondents said they plan on traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both.

For Thanksgiving, specifically, The Vacationer study found that an estimated 117 million American adults plan to travel, which was 2% more than last year’s estimates.

“More than two out of every three American adults will travel to a vacation destination or holiday gathering this year,” the Vacationer study said. “According to the latest census, the 67.23% represents over 174 million people traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both. The 67.23% is also nearly 6% more than the 61.52% of people who stated intentions to travel for one or more of these holidays in last year’s survey.”

While the Motel 6 data and the Vacationer data differ, both studies show that well over half of the population plans to travel for the holidays. Given how crowded roads and airports were in recent years during the winter holidays, this information serves as an indicator that we can expect the same thing this year.

There’s not much confidence in airlines from those who plan on traveling for the holidays, which isn’t too surprising considering the delays, cancellations, and general chaos of recent years. The Vacationer study revealed that 59.23% of respondents have little to no confidence in airlines being able to avoid excessive delays and cancellations during the holidays.

If you plan on flying this year, experts advise that you should have already purchased your flights—prices are only going to go up as we get closer to the holidays. And if you do make it home, don’t be surprised if you’re one of the only millennials at the table. More and more young people report that they don’t plan on traveling home for the holidays, and are instead going to use that time to take a trip to somewhere new.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for seven years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.