Cornucopia of Arizonans to Make Thanksgiving Pilgrimage


Holiday travel up slightly from 2011


Phoenix. Nov. 13, 2012. According to AAA’s annual travel forecast, more Americans will be turkey trotting their way to Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Nearly 858,000 Arizonans will travel over the upcoming holiday weekend, a 0.4 percent increase over last year. Nationwide, 43.6 million Americans will travel, a 0.7 percent increase compared to 2011. These modest increases mark the fourth consecutive year of travel recovery since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent nationally.

“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when just over 731,000 Arizonans traveled,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Arizona. “Since then, we’ve seen a slow but steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday.”

The table below illustrates projected 2012 Thanksgiving travel compared to 2011:


Thanksgiving 2012

Overall Travelers

Auto Travelers






Change from Last Year (Ariz.)

+0.4 percent

+0.3 percent

-2.0 percent

Total U.S.

43.6 million

39.1 million

3.1 million

Change from Last Year (U.S.)

+0.7 percent

+0.6 percent

-1.7 percent



Top three trends from AAA’s 2012 Thanksgiving forecast among Arizonans include:


1.     Road trips reign supreme. More than 750,000 Arizonans — or nearly nine out of 10 — travelers will drive to their destination. Close-to-home road trips are the biggest travel trend this holiday, which highlights that many travelers are responding to current fuel prices by taking a shorter trip. The statewide fuel average is currently 21.5 cents more per gallon compared to last year. 

2.     Busiest travel days revealed. The Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving will be the most “stuffed” days on the road. The majority of travelers – 45 percent – will leave on Nov. 21 and more than a third – 36 percent – plan to return Nov. 25.

3.     Local tourism thrives. Tourism output, which includes revenue generated from dining, entertainment and resort stays, is expected to rise 2.1 percent over 2011. It’s no surprise that Arizona is leading the way with the largest increase in the region – 3.3 percent –  as AAA Four and Five Diamond properties enter prime season.


Research for Thanksgiving travel projections are derived from IHS Global Insight. The Thanksgiving travel period is defined as trips that include travel of 50 miles or more from Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. 


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AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.