Heavy traffic, delays and long commute times could be on the Thanksgiving menu for American drivers.
AAA predicts that this year will be the third busiest for Turkey Day travel since the organization began collecting Thanksgiving travel data in 2000.
About 54.6 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more to get to their destinations.
“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”
The federation expects nearly 49 million people to travel by car for the holiday.
The figure is an 0.4% increase from the 2021 Thanksgiving travel data but is still 2.5% lower than data from 2019.
For California drivers planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving, it’s no surprise that cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Bernardino will experience even longer commute times.
To help avoid traffic, AAA suggests that drivers leave sooner rather than later when heading to their destination and plan for holiday traffic during the commute back home.
According to the federation, the best times to travel by car would be:
• Before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23
• Before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day
• Before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25
• Before 2 p.m. or after 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26
• Before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27
The worst times to travel would be:
• Between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23
• Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day
• Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25
• Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26
• Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27
Airplane travelers won’t be able to escape the holiday traffic either. AAA projected that 4.5 million people, about 330,000 more than in 2021, are planning to fly to get to their destinations.
“Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed, or you need to reschedule,” Twidale said in a statement.
The organization also estimates that about 1.4 million people will travel by bus, train or cruise ship to get to their destinations, a 23% increase from 2021 figures.