Oklahoma to see increased Holiday travel this week


AAA estimates that more than 480,000 Oklahomans will be among the 55.4 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the long 2023 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 1.1% compared to the 2022 Oklahoma Thanksgiving travel volume.

2023 Projected Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers – Oklahoma


Total Population

2023 Travelers

Percent of population traveling

Percent change vs. 2022

Oklahoma TOTAL

Auto, Air & Other





Oklahoma Auto

91.6% of people travel by car




Oklahoma Air

6.6% of people travel by air




Oklahoma Other

(train, bus, cruise, etc.)

2.4% of people travel by other modes





National TOTAL

55.4 million*

55.4 million



National Auto


88.7% of people travel by car

49.1 million



National Air


8.5% of people travel by air

4.7 million



National Other

(train, bus, cruise, etc.)

2.8% of people travel by other modes

1.55 million



*U.S. Census Bureau (v2022)/IHS Markit

Consistent with most travel holidays, 9 in 10 travelers – or about 442,000 Oklahomans – will be driving to their Thanksgiving holiday destinations. The number of road travelers is slightly more than last year. In addition, those drivers will feel less pain at the pumps during their road trip fill-ups.

“The good news is gas prices are lower than last year in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips,” says Rylie Fletcher, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “For Oklahomans, the news is even better at more than 40 cents less than the national average.”

“Drivers this Thanksgiving can expect cheaper gas prices,” adds Fletcher. “Ten states now have sub $3 a gallon averages, and more will join soon. So savvy drivers will find savings on their way to a turkey dinner this year.”

Best/Worst Times to Drive: INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Wednesday, November 22, to be the busiest day on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with average travel times as high as 80% over normal in some metro areas. INRIX recommends leaving in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion. Highways will also be crowded the Sunday after Thanksgiving as many travelers return home.

Flights and airports will be packed this holiday season. AAA is projecting about 32,000 Oklahoma residents will takes to the skies over the Thanksgiving travel period, representing a 3.7% jump compared to 2022. Nationwide, 4.7 million Americans will travel by air for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are the busiest air travel days ahead of the holiday and the most expensive. AAA data shows Monday is also a popular day to fly back after Thanksgiving.

“If you’re flying this Thanksgiving, airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Fletcher suggests. “Anticipate longer than usual TSA lines, and leave extra time to navigate through the airport. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if your flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.”

Other modes of transportation will see the biggest jump for this year’s Thanksgiving travel period. AAA is projecting that about 12,000 Oklahomans will travel by cruise, bus, train or some other mode of transportation over the holiday period, an increase of 6.5% over last year.

“These other modes of transportation, which took a huge hit during the pandemic, have rebounded nicely,” Fletcher says. “The cruise industry, in particular, has made a remarkable comeback. Thanksgiving cruises are mostly sold out, with many travelers looking to spend the holiday at sea.”

AAA Oklahoma estimates that the auto club will rescue over 4,000 stranded motorists from Wednesday-Sunday, with nearly half of calls needing a tow.

“Get a pre-trip check now to avoid a headache while traveling,” advises Fletcher.

With a colder weather forecast for Thanksgiving week, AAA urges drivers, especially those whose batteries may be a few years old, to get them checked now rather than risk becoming stranded roadside. Tires lose air pressure in cold weather, so it is also important to regularly check tires and add air as needed.

“We have been fortunate with a stretch of mostly mild weather, but cold temperatures are in the forecast this week, and the coldest months of winter are ahead,” says Fletcher. “AAA Emergency Roadside Service crews are getting ready, and we encourage drivers to be prepared as well.”