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This Thanksgiving could be one of the busiest travel years ever

Katey Psencik
Travel traffic has been steady all day at Austin Bergstrom International Airport in what some consider the busiest travel day of the year for the Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday morning November 22, 2017.


More than 54 million people will hit the roads and skies this Thanksgiving, the largest number since 2005, according to AAA. Traveling to see your loved ones can make the travel anticipation all the more unbearable, so we've gathered some tips for holiday travel. When is the best time to fly or drive? What airports and cities will be the busiest? How can you make holiday travel (relatively) painless? Here's what you need to know.

When to travel

According to GoBankingRates, it actually may be easier (and cheaper) to fly on the actual holiday. Prices are lower, lines are shorter and crowds are lighter, and airline staffers feeling the holiday spirit may accommodate you with free upgrades. If you can't travel on Thanksgiving Day, AAA reports the most affordable flights with the most moderate crowds are likely to be available the Monday before Thanksgiving. The TSA just announced it's expecting more that 25 million travelers between Friday, Nov. 16 and Monday, Nov. 26, nearly a 7 percent increase from last year. The busiest travel days will be the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In fact, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is projected to be in the TSA's top 10 busiest days ever. The busiest airports? Dallas, San Fransisco, Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Chicago and Seattle. 

When it comes to driving, your early evening commute will start to get congested starting Monday, but the roads will be the most clear on Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday, AAA reports. Roads are expected to be busiest on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when most drivers are returning home from the holiday.

So where are all these people going? AAA ranked the top 10 Thanksgiving destinations:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. New York
  3. Anaheim, Calif.
  4. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  5. Las Vegas
  6. Cancun, Mexico
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  8. Honolulu, Hawaii
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Miami, Fla.

How to make traveling easier (and more enjoyable):

Pack with security in mind, if you're flying. That includes making sure large liquids and other materials are in your checked baggage and the liquids in your carry-on baggage are compliant with TSA standards. Be prepared to remove your electronics from your bag, and consider leaving bulky jewelry, scarves and jackets in your checked baggage so you have fewer things to carry through security. According to USA Today, TSA is paying special attention to food items and powders in carry-ons, so removing those items will help you move through security faster.

Leave early. Whether you're flying or driving, make sure to allow extra time to go through security or sit in traffic.

Keep an eye on the weather, although according to AccuWeather, things are looking pretty good across the United States for Thanksgiving. The weather impact you whether you're on the roads or in the skies, so plan accordingly and check the forecast for both your current location and your destination.

Be patient. Bring a book, a crossword puzzle, magazines, games, music, your iPad...anything that will keep you and your family entertained.

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