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Planning to drive at Thanksgiving? So is everyone else


Planning to drive to your Thanksgiving meal? So is everyone else. AAA is projecting more than 49 million people are planning to get behind the wheel between Wednesday and Sunday.

Valerie Puma, of AAA Western and Central New York, said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 22, is notoriously one of the most congested days on the road.

"Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metropolitan areas," Puma said. "And motorists should also be aware that the busiest time that Wednesday is going to be between 2 and 6 p.m. because that's going to be Thanksgiving travelers getting on the road around the same time as commuters who are heading home for the day."

Other busy times on the road are midday on Thanksgiving day and between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend when people start to head back home.

Puma said try not to leave gassing up your car for the trip to the last minute either as while gas prices are lower than they were this time last year if there's a big spike in demand, gas prices could change to reflect that.

"If you are out and about on Monday or Tuesday, and you happen to pass a gas station on your way home for the day maybe gas up while it's not busy while the gas prices are still relatively low, just in case there is a spike in prices," Puma said.

Puma also advised to be aware of your surroundings on the road, especially at night, as it is deer season.

While AAA projects the majority of travelers will be commuting by car, about 4.7 million people are expected to fly to their Thanksgiving destinations. Syracuse Airport spokesperson Matt Szwejbka said since last Thanksgiving 1,000 parking spots have been commissioned and the airport expects there will be enough spaces for holiday travelers.

"We encourage people for this holiday push, visit our website, flysyracuse.com," Szwejbka said. "We have near-real-time parking updates on there. So if someone has not pre-booked their parking, they can see near real-time updates for all the different parking opportunities we have and you'll know precisely what you're driving into."

The airport is anticipating more than 58,000 people passing through between Friday, November 17 and Tuesday, November 28. Expect longer lines between 4:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. – noon, and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

"Our checkpoint opens up at 3:30 in the morning," Szwejbka said. "Any airlines who have extremely early flights prior to 6:00, they open their ticket counters at 3:30. So get there two hours before your flight. That's going to help you have a much smoother experience."

WRVO's Ellen Abbott contributed to this report

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.