Traveling for Thanksgiving? Expect big crowds and plan ahead


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The roads and airports will be crowded this Thanksgiving.

AAA predicts we will be back to near pre-pandemic travel levels with more than 53 million people making the pilgrimage to get their pumpkin pie.

Air traffic will be soaring 80% higher than last year but the real crowds will be on the roads.

AAA Tidewater predicts 1.3 million Virginians will drive to their holiday destination.

“I think we’ve lost a little bit of our driving patience and we’re not used to being on the road with so many people anymore,” AAA Director of Public Affairs and Marketing, Holly Dalby said.

So, to save your sanity, Dalby suggests you plan ahead and avoid driving the afternoon before Thanksgiving.

The AAA travel forecast predicts traffic on Interstate 64 eastbound in Hampton will increase 82% between noon and 2 p.m. that Wednesday, Nov. 24, and westbound traffic on I-64 Hampton a whopping 228% between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“Pack your patience, leave early, leave extra time on the road,” Dalby said.

Also, make sure your car is road-ready, AAA Car Care expert Daniel Hersey said.

‘It’s a good idea to get at least a quick look-over from someone who knows what they’re looking for,” Hersey said.

Hersey told WAVY most calls they get will involved tires or batteries. So, have your battery checked for voltage output and corrosion. Check the tires for cracks, dry rot and proper tread.

“The tires go bald … you don’t have nearly as much control, even when it dry and when its rain, you have almost no control,” Hersey warned.

He also advises checking fluid levels and topping them off before your trip.

Tire pressure is also important for better gas mileage, he said. With the high price of gas right now, that will save money on the Thanksgiving drive for all the Christmas presents you’ll need down the road.

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