Airports and roads may seem a bit more crowded during the Thanksgiving season, as AAA predicts 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. That's up 13% from 2020.

This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from from its fall during the pandemic, shooting up 80% compared to 2020.

As restrictions continue to lift and consumer confidence builds, AAA urges travelers to be proactive when making travel arrangements this holiday season.

"With restrictions being lifted and travel more accessible than in 2020, making new holiday memories with family and friends is once again a priority for Americans," said AAA East Central Vice President, Bevi Powell.

Despite the spike in gas prices compared to 2020, 90% of people are planning to travel by car as their preferred method of travel. Before heading out, AAA recommends motorists to ensure their vehicles are road trip-ready to avoid a breakdown along the way.

The AAA also recommends travelers to do the following:

-Be patient and plan ahead as roads and airports will be busy.

-Be early to the airport to give yourself extra time to get through longer TSA lines and other checkpoints.

-Be proactive and book flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible.

-Be protected by following CDC guidelines and understanding how to protect yourself, your loved ones and investments while traveling.

INRIX in collaboration with AAA predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

According to a chart from INRIX: The best and worst times to travel on each day of the holiday weekend are as follows:

-Wednesday: (Worst - 12:00-8:00 p.m.) (Best - After 9:00 p.m.)

Thursday: (Worst - 12:00-3:00 p.m.) (Best - Before 11:00 a.m.)

Friday: (Worst - 1:00-4:00 p.m.) (Best - Before 11:00 a.m.)

Saturday: (Worst - 2:00-7:00 p.m.) (Best - Before 12:00 p.m.)

Sunday: (Worst - 1:00-7:00 p.m.) (Best - Before 12:00 p.m.)

Even with air travel seeing a boost in 2021, AAA finds that the average airfare is stil 27.3% less than 2020 coming in at $132.

Tuesday and Wednesday are the most expensive and heaviest travel days, with Monday being the lightest and least expensive. Those wanting to book last minute travels will find the best fares about two to three weeks before Thanksgiving, but availability may be limited.

Mid-range hotel rates have increased 39% with the average nightly rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA approved hotels. 

Daily car rental rates have increased 4% compared to 2020 at $98. Over the summer, consumers experienced higher costs and limited availability of rental cars due to the semi-conductor chip shortage impacting automakers.

While the shortage has since subsided, it could return as the holidays near.