RALEIGH, N.C. – Get your stretchy pants ready and pack your patience, Thanksgiving travel is underway as we enter the week of the holiday.
More than 1.6 million North Carolinians are predicted to travel 50 miles or more this holiday period, according to AAA’s Tiffany Wright. Of those, 1.43 million are packing up the car to hit the road, a number 18,000 higher than last year’s holiday season.
Overall, 55.4 million Americans are expected to travel, which is up 2.3% from last year.
The good news is drivers are paying less for gas this year, with prices expected to remain low this holiday season due to a strong domestic gasoline supply. You can find updated gasoline prices in North Carolina here.
Wright shared some tips to make the traveling experience a little smoother.
“Wednesday is the busiest day. That’s going to receive the most congestion, whether they’re talking about roadways or we’re talking about going to airports,” Wright said. “So, if your travel plans allow you to leave, you know, before that, that would be great.”
As far as the timing for getting out the door, Wright recommends leaving either before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
“If you can avoid between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., you might experience a little bit less congestion,” Wright said.
“But the sweet spot is going to be Thanksgiving Day. If your travel plans allow you to fly out or to drive on Thanksgiving Day, that’s going to be the date you see the least amount of people on the roads, the least amount of people at the airports during this travel period,” she said.
EuroJournalday after Thanksgiving also tends to be a busy travel day.
The Transportation Security Administration expects about 30 million passengers to fly between Nov. 17 and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
If you’re flying, experts recommend avoiding checking a bag – that way you can quickly get in line and avoid any confusion if your flight gets delayed or canceled.
Another tip is to take public transit to the airport or book a parking spot online, if your airport allows it.
Overall, Wright recommends keeping safety and patience in mind, in the height of potential travel frustrations.
“Don’t take things personal when you’re on the roadway, then I would say just obey traffic safety laws. It’s simple, folks, you know? Buckle up. Don’t drive distracted. Don’t speed and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination,” Wright said.
“I will tell you this, when you’re talking about traveling to this holiday period, we’re looking at times that are extended probably 80% more.”