Thanksgiving is all about being grateful, and the data suggests that most people traveling for the holiday seem to be delighted to have a warm destination on their itineraries to escape the recent bitterly cold weather.
Millions are hoping to squeeze in one last week of warm weather before winter by heading to places like Florida or Hawaii, and those vacationers are using their extra Thanksgiving holiday time-off to do so, according to experts in the travel business.
AAA and INRIX, a global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics, teamed up to provide a list of the top Thanksgiving travel destinations for 2019 and there is a hot trend among the destinations.
"The theme parks of Orlando and Southern California and other warm-weather destinations will see an influx of travelers looking to escape the start of winter," AAA said in its annual press release.
Florida is home to four of the top 10 destinations on the AAA list, which includes Orlando and Miami. And Hawaii has two top destinations on the list, based on advance AAA travel bookings. Nine out of the top 10 Thanksgiving destinations are places with warmer climates.
The only exception is the No. 3 spot on the list, which was clinched by New York City. The Big Apple has a seemingly hypnotic hold on the imaginations of Thanksgiving vacationers as it appears near the top of the AAA list on a perennial basis. Millions of people are drawn there to see the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to kick off the holiday season each year, according to ABC7.
And many more flock to see the dazzling Rockefeller Center Christmas tree sparkling with lights. However, NYC fell from the No. 2 spot on the 2018 holiday travel list. In 2017, New York City held the No. 3 spot.
Warm destinations typically top the Thanksgiving travel list as people hope to escape early wintry weather, but this November has provided extra motivation for Americans living across northern parts of the United States to flee to a warmer locale.
Chicago experienced its coldest first half of November in the past 148 years, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), which makes heading south for the holiday even more appealing.
The Windy City may make a run at the third-coldest November on record based on its average temperature, which was sitting at 32.1 F a little more than halfway through the month, potentially falling only behind 1872 and 1880, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sodja. Numerous daily records have also been shattered.
Farther east, icy air has penetrated areas of the Northeast at times this November.
"Boston is about 4 degrees below normal for the month so far, and New York City is 6 degrees below normal, but both of those averages are still about 8 to 10 degrees above the monthly record," Sodja said.
For international travelers, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice: Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica, are the top international destinations this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. Munich, Germany, rounds out the top five international Thanksgiving travel list, and it's the only cold location, most likely due its world-famous enchanted Christmas Markets.
AAA predicts this Thanksgiving will bring the second-highest travel volume since the agency began tracking in 2000.
According to Sojda, an active weather pattern will close out the month across the nation, and holiday travelers are expected to run into some weather-related issues.