How to navigate holiday travel plans this holiday season
It can be stressful to travel around the holidays.
Airports are packed with people, tickets are expensive, roads are jammed and bad weather can turn your travel plans into a nightmare.
This year, AAA projects roughly 55 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, marking a 2.3% increase over last year.
Delaware Public Media’s Quinn Kirkpatrick sat down this week with AAA spokesperson Jana Tidwell to learn more about what we can expect from this holiday travel season and how to prepare.
AAA is projecting that 55.4 million Americans will travel around the Thanksgiving holiday, including nearly 150,000 Delawareans.
“That is significant because it represents a 2.3% increase in travel volume over last year, but it's also the third highest Thanksgiving weekend travel volume since 2001,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Jana Tidwell.
That projection lines up with the strong travel demand AAA has seen all year.
89% of Americans are expected to travel by car, and 9% are expected to travel by plane. More than 91% of local travelers are expected to travel by car this year.
Tidwell says that means traffic is inevitable, but there are ways to avoid it.
AAA anticipates Wednesday from 2-6pm will be the busiest time on the roads thanks to a mix of commuters and holiday travelers.
Thanksgiving Day itself is the best day to travel by car.
But if that’s not possible, heading out earlier in the day or later at night on Wednesday is the best bet for avoiding what could be an 80% increase in travel volume in some areas.
Aside from planning around longer travel times, Tidwell says there are some other things Americans should keep in mind.
“Increased volume out there on the roadways leads to an increased risk in traffic crashes, injuries, and ultimately fatalities,” she explained, noting that lack of sleep and indulgence in alcoholic beverages are also common during the holidays, adding to that risk.
AAA urges anyone who plans to drink to have a plan in place before taking their first sip.
That means finding a designated driver, using a rideshare, or making a plan to spend the night instead of driving home.