Turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing are waiting. But first, you have to get to them.
For the millions of travelers expected to fly, drive or otherwise journey for the holiday next week — 13 percent more than last year, according to AAA — several roadblocks loom. Roads will be packed, airport lines will be crowded, and stormy weather could snarl it all.
On top of it all, there is still a pandemic to worry about. Over the past seven days, new coronavirus cases have risen 31 percent in the United States.
We gathered advice from experts on the best way to brave the airports, roads and elements — all while staying as safe as possible.
Regardless of their habits the rest of the year, travelers should get to the airport early for Thanksgiving week flights. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen about 20 million travelers during the holiday period, which lasts from Friday until Nov. 28.
“If you’re flying out of some of the biggest airports in the country, get to the airport two hours early,” said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman. “We’re going to see congested airports again, many of them very, very close to pre-pandemic levels.”
For international flights, three hours ahead is a safer window.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said to remind people to bring all the documents they need for their destination; this year, that could include proof of a negative coronavirus test and a vaccination card, as well as the standard identification and boarding pass.
But travelers should leave behind — or put in checked bags — anything that isn’t allowed in a carry-on bag to avoid the extra screening time. That includes oversized liquids, gels, aerosols and certain holiday foods. Farbstein said anything you can smear or spread, such as cranberry sauce, gravy or mashed potatoes, needs to go in a checked bag. Same rule goes for canned vegetables because of the liquid in the can.
A frozen turkey or homemade baked goods, on the other hand, can fly in the cabin.
“Carving knife: please put it in your checked bag,” Farbstein said.
Don’t leave when just about everyone else is leaving, which is expected to be Wednesday afternoon. Unlike pre-pandemic times, travelers who have the flexibility to work remotely might beat the worst of the traffic tie-ups by leaving several days in advance and working from their destination. More than 48 million people are expected to travel by car for the holiday, according to AAA.
“We strongly recommend leaving, if you can, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving,” said AAA spokeswoman Ellen Edmonds. “If not, early morning Wednesday is best.”
She said even Thanksgiving Day itself should have lighter travel than Wednesday, if the trip isn’t too far.
“Anything you can do to make your travel easier — and if that’s leaving a few days earlier if you’re able to, whether that’s flying or driving — we really recommend that,” she said.
If you are just reading this, if you didn’t leave on Wednesday, you might want to head out early tomorrow.
Contributor: Washington Post