Thanksgiving travel trouble may be caused by a winter storm.
A winter storm system packing high winds, rain and Arctic air is expected to develop, hitting the Midwest and East coast.
With a dramatic drop in COVID-19 concerns, AAA is projecting more than 145,000 Delawareans will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – an increase of more than 12% over last year.
While the amount of people traveling this year is just shy of pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travelers in 2019, AAA said people should be prepared to face a traffic uptick for this holiday which the organization defines as Wednesday through Sunday.
“Both the Thanksgiving travel projections and the results of AAA’s statewide poll tell the same story,” said Jana Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Thanksgiving travelers see COVID in the rear view mirror and they are looking forward to returning to the pre-pandemic tradition of gathering with family and friends.
“Travelers should expect – and plan for – both the roadways and airports to be as busy as ever.”
Thanksgiving desserts: Where to get your Thanksgiving pies in and around Delaware
Turkey day weather
Temperatures around the state should be suitable for travelers with highs in the mid to upper 40s on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Thanksgiving Day high is expected to be in the upper 50s before dropping back into the 40s into next week.
Skies are forecast to be mostly sunny to partly cloudy into next week with some morning showers in the southern part of the state.
Check those weather apps if you’re traveling beyond the region.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Despite the spike in fuel prices, AAA said the majority of this year’s travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. AAA is projecting that more than 130,000 Delawareans will be hitting the road, up more than 8% over last year.
Nationally, 48.3 million travelers are expected to take to the roads for the holiday.
Any travelers going to or through Maryland should remember that cash is no longer an accepted form of payment, as tolls are paid electronically via E-ZPass, pay-by-plate or video tolling.
There will also be a jump in travelers outside of those in vehicles.
AAA is projecting more than 9,700 Delawareans will take to the skies, a jump of nearly 80% over last year. Another 2,000 Delawareans will travel by bus, train or some other mode of transportation over the holiday weekend – a jump of 250% over the previous year.
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) anticipates about 400,000 outbound passengers will pass through its terminals during the peak Thanksgiving travel period, which runs through November 30, according to its website.
“Airports across the country are experiencing issues with parking – this is not a problem that is exclusive to PHL,” said Chellie Cameron, airport CEO. “Parking on-site at the airport is going to be a challenge for our passengers. The Economy Lot remains closed, and our onsite garages will fill up rapidly throughout the holiday season.”
Passengers are strongly encouraged to use offsite parking, ride share, public transportation or have a friend or family member drive them to the airport. Those who intend to park at the airport should plan on arriving at least three hours early to ensure enough time to look for garage parking or find an offsite location, while still having time to pass through security and board their flights.
Uber can help travelers get to the Philadelphia International Airport through a special promotion for passengers, according to the website.
Travels taking planes, trains and buses should remember that these forms of transportation follow CDC guidelines, which still require all persons to wear a mask. U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations also require masks to be worn.
Travel safely and stay healthy
AAA attributes the rebound in traveling to Delaware residents feeling less risk in getting COVID-19.
Only 6% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a “significant” risk for COVID-19. This is in contrast to a similar poll last year where more than 39% felt holiday travel posed a “significant” risk for the disease.
Speaking of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its recommendations for holiday gatherings and related travel, saying the best way to minimize coronavirus risk is for eligible people to get vaccinated.
The national public health agency also provided tips on how to prepare before traveling:
- Check the current COVID-19 situation at one’s destination.
- Make sure to understand and follow all state, local, and territorial travel restrictions, including mask wearing, proof of vaccination, testing, or quarantine requirements. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or territory and local health department’s website where you are, along your route, and where you are going.
- If traveling by air, check if the airline requires any testing, vaccination or other documents.
- Prepare to be flexible during the trip as restrictions and policies may change during your travel.
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @eparra3.