Colorado Thanksgiving travel numbers are recovering to pre-pandemic levels

We’re almost a week away from Thanksgiving now. And despite current inflation and economic worries, Colorado vacation travel is making a comeback.

It is expected that over 950,000 Coloradans will travel miles or more for Thanksgiving. That’s 26,000 (2.8%) more Colorado travelers than last year and just 7,000 (0.73%) fewer than in 2019, which remains the statewide record. These dates are all according to AAA’s latest travel forecast.

AAA Regional Director of Public Affairs Skyler McKinley broke the numbers down with CBS News Colorado’s Mekialaya White. “The big surprise in 2022 is that people say, you know what, no matter what happens with the economy, I’m choosing to travel this year,” McKinley said.

McKinley says this is due to an increased level of comfort and safety with widespread vaccination. “People want to get together and if they can, they will. 80%, almost 90% of Colorado residents are comfortable traveling.”

The data also shows that you can expect an increase in air travel, and the vast majority of Coloradans travel by road, about 841,000 people. With that, McKinley has some advice, no matter how you get to your holiday destination.

“If you’re driving and frustrated by traffic, just remember: you can’t be frustrated by traffic, you are traffic. Everyone is doing exactly what you’re trying to do,” McKinley said.

Travelers should expect much heavier traffic jams than normal Monday through Wednesday afternoons and early evenings. Traffic will be lighter in the mornings and late evenings and on Thanksgiving Day.

Nov 23 – Worst time: 11 am to 8 pm | Best time: Before 8am and after 8pm
Nov 24 – Worst time: 11am to 3pm | Best time: Before 11am and after 6pm
Nov 25 – Worst time: 4pm to 8pm | Best time: Before 11am and after 8pm
Nov 26 – Worst time: 4pm to 8pm | Best time: Before 2pm and after 8pm
Nov 27 – Worst time: 4pm to 8pm | Best time: Before 11am and after 8pm

“When it comes to airports, pack your patience,” McKinley said. “The name of the game for Thanksgiving is gratitude. So if you find yourself feeling frustrated at the airport, remember these are people showing up for work. Notice how you take that frustration out on others.”

The most popular destinations according to hotel bookings on are as follows:

  1. OrlandoFlorida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. Las Vegas
  4. new York
  5. Atlanta
  6. Phoenix
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  8. Denver
  9. Chicago
  10. Charlotte, North Carolina