Thanksgiving travel expected to be up from last year, closer to pre-pandemic levels

You can expect long lines at airports and lots of traffic next week as Thanksgiving travel inches closer to pre-pandemic levels.

AAA spokesman Nick Chabarria says nearly 55 million people will travel next week, a 1.5% increase over last year.  That number is just 2% shy of pre-pandemic travel numbers and it’s the third-busiest year for travel since 2000.

Chabarria says one mode of transportation continues to be the most popular.

“The majority of folks, no surprise here, will be taking road trips, about 90% of all travelers will be doing so by car.  Of course we know that gas prices are up a bit from where they were last year, they have come down from their summer highs, but road trips remain popular for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Chabarria says you’re likely to encounter travel delays no matter when you leave, but Wednesday will be one of the worst days for travel.

“If you are leaving Wednesday, you can leave early in the morning, 6 or 7 a.m., or if you’re not going too far and want to leave at night, after 8 is usually the best time.  So, after Wednesday, if you can leave in the morning, you should be in good shape and hopefully avoid some of the rush.”

Friday, Saturday and Sunday will also be busy travel days, especially between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. 

So what’s the best way to avoid travel headaches?  Chabarria says be patient, expect lines, and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.