In the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of Americans who plan to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays is expected to only be around 5 percent lower than in 2019. In 2020, the number had still been 16 percent below the 2019 figure. Notably, air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to nearly recover this year despite the ongoing virus transmission. In 2020, airplane travel for the holiday had still been 50 percent lower than pre-pandemic. This is according to an analysis by IHS Markit for AAA.
Still, Americans seem to feel most comfortable using cars during the pandemic. The volume of car travel – by far the most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving - was affected the least in 2020 and in 2021.
The 2020 results can also be read as Americans forgoing long-distance travel because of COVID-19 but remaining keen to visit friends and family who live short or medium distances away. In 2021, some of these fears seem to have been dispersed.
No matter if near or far, Thanksgiving gatherings carry an inherent risk of infection. Experts advise that people who attend gatherings only do so with vaccinated family and friends, get tested ahead and mask up in crowded indoor settings around the holidays. Older people and those with conditions making the virus more dangerous to them are obviously also more at risk, as are those who remain unvaccinated.