Thanksgiving travel in 2021 is expected to look a lot like Thanksgiving travel before the pandemic began. Travel predictions estimate that more than 53 million people will be leaving home to visit friends and loved ones. The coronavirus, however, is still a major concern for anyone traveling. And that’s why how each state is responding to the pandemic is once again a significant factor in our evaluation of the riskiest states for Thanksgiving travel.

Key findings:

  • Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota are the riskiest states for Thanksgiving travel.
  • New York, Illinois and Connecticut are the safest states for Thanksgiving travel.
  • Alaska, Idaho and Wyoming were the riskiest states when evaluated on health factors alone.
  • Tennessee, Iowa and North Dakota were the riskiest states when evaluated on driving factors alone.

To find the riskiest states for Thanksgiving travel, we evaluated each state based on ten different health and safety factors. COVID-19 case rates, vaccination rates, hospital capacity and the number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs were all considered. In the end, our analysts found that Alaska is the riskiest state for Thanksgiving travel.

Riskiest States for Thanksgiving Travel
Overall rank State Health rank Driving rank
1 Alaska 1 8
2 Idaho 2 6
3 North Dakota 5 3
4 Wyoming 3 14
5 Iowa 15 2
6 New Mexico 9 31
7 Colorado 8 19
8 Utah 19 7
9 Wisconsin 16 4
10 Tennessee 30 1
11 Georgia 12 26
12 Nebraska 20 12
13 Montana 7 30
14 Arizona 6 41
15 Nevada 13 32
16 Minnesota 18 23
17 South Carolina 27 17
18 Ohio 17 15
19 Indiana 21 20
20 California 37 9
21 Kentucky 11 42
22 Rhode Island 38 13
23 Oregon 26 18
24 Alabama 10 44
25 Virginia 39 5
26 Kansas 23 21
27 North Carolina 31 22
28 West Virginia 4 48
29 Texas 25 33
30 Vermont 34 24
31 Missouri 24 38
32 Arkansas 28 37
33 Oklahoma 14 50
34 Washington 35 27
35 New Hampshire 22 47
36 Massachusetts 43 16
37 Maryland 48 10
38 Pennsylvania 32 35
39 Michigan 29 43
40 Hawaii 41 34
41 South Dakota 33 29
42 Mississippi 36 40
43 Florida 46 28
44 Maine 47 25
45 New Jersey 49 11
46 Louisiana 40 46
47 Delaware 42 49
48 New York 44 36
49 Illinois 45 45
50 Connecticut 50 39

While more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, we believe the coronavirus will continue to play a large role in people’s Thanksgiving travel plans. When measured on health factors alone, we found that Alaska, Idaho and Wyoming are the riskiest places for Thanksgiving travel.

Health rankings
Overall health rank (worst to best) State Unvaccinated rank Hospital capacity COVID-19 deaths rank COVID-19 case rank
1 Alaska 18 7 1 4
2 Idaho 2 4 5 24
3 Wyoming 3 27 2 6
4 West Virginia 1 33 4 15
5 North Dakota 6 32 14 3
6 Arizona 22 10 11 14
7 Montana 15 30 3 10
8 Colorado 37 6 9 7
9 New Mexico 38 1 23 2
10 Alabama 4 3 16 43
11 Kentucky 16 12 12 27
12 Georgia 9 5 10 47
13 Nevada 21 2 18 32
14 Oklahoma 14 11 19 34
15 Iowa 27 19 17 16
16 Wisconsin 29 18 24 9
17 Ohio 17 42 6 18
18 Minnesota 35 28 20 1
19 Utah 26 16 31 13
20 Nebraska 28 22 25 12
21 Indiana 11 37 22 17
22 New Hampshire 39 14 32 5
23 Kansas 23 44 8 21
24 Missouri 12 24 30 31
25 Texas 25 15 15 44
26 Oregon 40 20 7 33
27 South Carolina 13 13 29 45
28 Arkansas 8 34 21 38
29 Michigan 24 41 34 8
30 Tennessee 10 38 27 35
31 North Carolina 19 17 38 36
32 Pennsylvania 34 45 13 20
33 South Dakota 20 46 36 19
34 Vermont 50 23 39 11
35 Washington 42 21 33 30
36 Mississippi 5 35 41 46
37 California 36 8 43 41
38 Rhode Island 49 9 48 23
39 Virginia 41 25 26 39
40 Louisiana 7 40 37 49
41 Hawaii 30 29 28 48
42 Delaware 31 36 46 25
43 Massachusetts 46 31 44 29
44 New York 45 50 35 22
45 Illinois 33 49 42 28
46 Florida 32 26 50 50
47 Maine 48 43 45 26
48 Maryland 43 39 40 40
49 New Jersey 44 47 47 37
50 Connecticut 47 48 49 42

Airline travel made a significant comeback this summer, but this Thanksgiving, more people will be driving to their vacation destinations. After looking at each state’s number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs, we found that Tennessee is the riskiest place for that long road trip.

Driving rankings
Overall rank State DUI rank Accidents rank Speeding rank
1 Tennessee 2 1 6
2 Iowa 6 12 5
3 North Dakota 3 16 7
4 Wisconsin 11 26 2
5 Virginia 15 13 11
6 Idaho 8 17 15
7 Utah 10 9 21
8 Alaska 13 20 10
9 California 5 4 37
10 Maryland 37 5 4
11 New Jersey 33 10 3
12 Nebraska 7 8 33
13 Rhode Island 28 3 19
14 Wyoming 1 29 26
15 Ohio 17 25 17
16 Massachusetts 24 2 34
17 South Carolina 48 7 9
18 Oregon 22 22 20
19 Colorado 20 33 13
20 Indiana 16 21 29
21 Kansas 26 27 14
22 North Carolina 23 18 27
23 Minnesota 14 44 12
24 Vermont 36 14 23
25 Maine 32 11 31
26 Georgia 35 15 28
27 Washington 30 24 24
28 Florida 34 6 39
29 South Dakota 12 47 22
30 Montana 4 35 44
31 New Mexico 9 32 50
32 Nevada 21 28 43
33 Texas 31 19 42
34 Hawaii 49 43 1
35 Pennsylvania 25 34 35
36 New York 50 36 8
37 Arkansas 27 38 30
38 Missouri 43 39 16
39 Connecticut 44 23 32
40 Mississippi 18 37 49
41 Arizona 29 40 36
42 Kentucky 19 46 41
43 Michigan 38 50 18
44 Alabama 39 30 46
45 Illinois 45 45 25
46 Louisiana 41 31 45
47 New Hampshire 46 42 40
48 West Virginia 42 49 38
49 Delaware 47 41 47
50 Oklahoma 40 48 48

Our analysis found that six of the top 10 riskiest states to travel this Thanksgiving are in the northern and northwestern parts of the United States. This is largely due to the regions’ COVID-19 response. Many of the hospitals there are either at or near capacity, and a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated. The number of people traveling this Thanksgiving may be returning close to prepandemic levels, but coronavirus concerns remain a significant factor in our rankings.

Methodology

QuoteWizard analyzed 10 safety metrics to find out the most dangerous states to travel to. This includes driving accidents, speeding, DUIs, COVID-19 cases and deaths, unvaccinated rates and hospital capacity, which includes hospital beds, physicians, ICU bed capacity and staffing shortages.

Each metric was ranked on a 1-50 scale, with an ascending score representing the least safe to safest conditions for specific state travel. We then determined each state’s safety ranking by averaging across all metric scores to calculate its overall ranking and used the resulting scores to rank-order each state.

Adult COVID-19 vaccination rates: QuoteWizard analyzed CDC data on adults who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Our ranking is based on states that had the lowest to highest percentages of adults with at least one dose of a vaccine as of Aug. 30.

Dangerous driving states: Driving rankings were compiled from QuoteWizard’s proprietary data. State’s were ranked based on the rate of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs.

COVID-19 case and death rates: We looked at CDC data on United States COVID-19 Cases and deaths by state per 100K in the last seven days starting Aug. 26.

Hospital capacity: We averaged four metrics: hospital beds and physicians per 1000 residents, current ICU bed capacity and rate of hospital staffing shortages. To calculate the number of available ICU beds in each state, we used data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) compiled starting on Aug. 19. Data on the number of ICU beds and physicians per capita was compiled using information from the Kaiser Family Foundation and HHS. To calculate the least-prepared states for hospital capacity, we generated an aggregate score based on the number of available ICU beds, physicians per capita and current hospital capacity.