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Thanksgiving 2021 Travel Survey: 109m. American adults (42%) to travel

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Over 20% to spend more than $500; Nearly 32% to attend a large gathering.      

The Vacationer conducted Thanksgiving 2021 Travel Survey to find out how many Americans will travel this coming Thanksgiving, how much they will spend on travel, the mode of transportation, gathering sizes, most hated Thanksgiving foods, and where people will eat.

The survey included 1,092 American adults over the age of 18 and was conducted online using SurveyMonkey's interface/audience on our behalf on October 17, 2021. Eric Jones, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Rowan College South Jersey, analyzed the survey.

Key Stats:

  • Over 42% (109 Million American adults) will travel for Thanksgiving this year. Last year’s Thanksgiving survey showed 29.3% intended to travel to a vacation destination or gathering. This year’s figure shows 42.36% intend to travel, which is a 44.6% increase.
  • 10.52% (more than 27 million people) say their primary mode of travel will be by plane. Last year the TSA reported that 9.5 million passengers flew over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. This means that passengers for Thanksgiving travel this year should be nearly three times more than in 2020.
  • More than 20% will spend more than $500 on Thanksgiving travel, which includes gas, flights, hotels, tickets, etc.
  • Over 91% will eat Thanksgiving dinner at home or a friend or relative's home.
  • Nearly 32% will attend a large gathering of 10 or more people on Thanksgiving.
  • Over 28% named Turkey as one of their most hated Thanksgiving foods.

Here are the full results:

1. How much will you spend to travel for Thanksgiving this year? (gas, flights, hotels, tickets, etc.)

  • $0. — 35.41%
  • $500 or Less. — 44.46%
  • $501 to $1,000. — 10.25%
  • $1,001 to $1,500. — 5.03%
  • $1,501 to $2,000. — 2.01%
  • $2,000 or More. — 2.84%

Key Takeaway — More than 20% of American Adults will spend at least $500 on Thanksgiving travel. This includes costs for gas, flights, hotels, tickets, etc. Overall, the 20.13% represents about 52 million people. The nearly 10% that will spend over $1,000 represents more than 25 million people.

2. Where will you eat Thanksgiving dinner this year?

  • Home. — 44.74%
  • Friend or Relative’s Home. — 46.66%
  • Restaurant. — 5.12%
  • On Vacation. — 3.48%

Key Takeaway — Over 91% of all American adults will eat Thanksgiving dinner at home or a friend or relative’s home. This equates to more than 235 million people. 

3. How many people will you have Thanksgiving dinner with this year?

  • Less than 5. — 31.29%
  • 5 to 9.  — 36.87%
  • 10 to 14. — 22.69%
  • 15 or More. — 9.15%

Key Takeaway — Nearly 32% of all American adults will attend a large Thanksgiving gathering of 10 or more people this year. This figure equates to 82 million people. Additionally, more than 9% of all American adults will attend an even larger Thanksgiving gathering of 15 or more. This figure equates to nearly 24 million people.

4. Which traditional Thanksgiving food do you dislike most? (select all)

  • Turkey. — 28.09%
  • Ham. — 21.23%
  • Stuffing/Dressing. — 23.42%
  • Mashed Potatoes. — 17.57%
  • Sweet Potatoes or Yams. — 24.25%
  • Cranberry Sauce. — 29.92%
  • Corn. — 13.82%
  • Carrots. — 12.08%
  • Green Bean Casserole. — 24.61%
  • Macaroni and Cheese. — 14.73%
  • Coleslaw. — 21.68%
  • Pumpkin Pie. — 20.77%

Key Takeaway — Nearly 30% of all American adults stated they disliked Thanksgiving turkey. The 28.09% figure equates to more than 72 million people. Additionally, nearly 30% stated they disliked cranberry sauce. The 29.92% for cranberry sauce makes cranberry sauce the most disliked Thanksgiving food. The 28.09% makes turkey the second most disliked food.

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