Experts are predicting that holiday traffic will be up this year, as travelers seek to spend time with loved ones during the Thanksgiving break.
AAA is forecasting that 87,000 more Floridians — an uptick of 3% — will travel at least 50 miles during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
This year’s forecast for Florida is the second-highest since 2001, the AAA news release says.
Obviously, with more people out and about, the roads will be more congested and the lines will be longer at transportation terminals.
Nationwide, more than 53.3 million Americans are forecast to travel for Thanksgiving, the AAA reports. That marks the third-largest travel volume on record, with nearly 1.3 million — or 2.3% more than last year. Those figures are surpassed only by 2019 and 2005, according to AAA.
Of 3 million Floridians making a trip, about 2.77 million will be traveling by automobile, about 210,000 will be taking to the skies and about 50,500 will be by other means, AAA says.
On average, nearly 80,000 passengers a day are expected to pass through Tampa International Airport (TPA) in the 11-day holiday travel period surrounding Thanksgiving, between Nov. 16 and Nov. 26, according to Emily Nipps, the airport’s director of communications.
Passenger projections suggest the two busiest days will likely be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following Thanksgiving. An estimated 84,000 to 87,000 passengers are expected to pass through TPA on each of those two days, according to airport figures.
By comparison, last year an average of 75,000 travelers per day passed through the airport during the Thanksgiving holidays, Nipps said.
New this year, guests who are using ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft for pick up after arriving on the Blue Side will be directed to use the Blue Express Curbsides to relieve congestion at the Blue baggage claim level. Passengers using Uber and Lyft on the Red Side can either use the Red Arrivals drive or take the elevator up and over to the Blue Express Curbsides, where there is less traffic and passengers can be picked up more quickly, according to an airport fact sheet.
Nipps said her biggest tips to make life easier for travelers are these: Pre-book parking online and use the Blue Express curbs for easier and faster pick-ups and drop-offs.
Nationwide, about 49.1 million will be traveling by auto and those road trips are expected to be cheaper because of falling prices at the pump, AAA says.
Before setting out, AAA urges motorists to be sure their vehicles are roadworthy — so they won’t be late, or miss their holiday feasts.
The auto club expects to rescue over 360,000 stranded motorists over Thanksgiving weekend. The three most common reasons for service calls are flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts, AAA says.
Are you flying for the holidays?Here are some air travel tips.
The folks at Tampa International Airport offer these pointers:
- Arrive early: Passengers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure. Those traveling internationally are encouraged to arrive at least three hours before take-off.
- Plan ahead for parking. It’s likely the parking garages could reach capacity at various points throughout the holiday season, but you can guarantee a space by booking your parking online, in advance of travels.
- Take advantage of Blue Express Curbsides, if you can. Those who are traveling with carry-on luggage only and don’t need to go to ticketing can use the Blue Express Curbsides. They offer a less busy alternative than the regular Departures and Arrivals curbsides. Drivers should follow signs for Blue Express. Blue Express Curbsides are also where ride-share apps pick up arriving passengers on the Airport’s Blue Side. Passengers on the Red Side – where the Red Express Curbsides are currently under construction – can meet their Uber or Lyft outside of the Red baggage claim area.
- Check your pockets before going through security: Jams and jellies, cranberry sauce, gravy, bottles of wine and other Thanksgiving treats are commonly confiscated at TSA checkpoints, along with the usual prohibited items such as knives and firearms. To keep things flowing smoothly through screening, be sure to check your pockets and carry-on luggage before leaving home.
- Skip the lines: You can order ahead and have a latte or burger or other snack waiting for you when you arrive. You can use TPA To Go or the Starbucks mobile app to order and pay, then swing by the counter to pick up your goods without standing in line.
And now, some additional air travel tips from AAA:
- Check-in early online.
- Monitor your flight status using your air carrier’s mobile app.
- Pack medications and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or canceled.
- If you haven’t booked your flight yet, book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
- Book a direct flight or build in extra time for connections, in case your first flight is delayed.
- Consider traveling on Thanksgiving Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.
Best times to travel
Are you doing a Thanksgiving road trip? AAA says these are the best/worst times:
- Nov. 22: Best time, before 11 a.m.; worst time, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Nov. 23: Best times, before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.; worst time, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Nov. 24: Best times, before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.; worst time, from noon to 4 p.m.
- Nov. 25: Best time, before noon; worst time, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Nov. 26: Best time, before noon; worst time, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
AAA suggestions for your Thanksgiving road trip-
Prevent vehicle breakdowns:
- Check your tires at least once a month and before taking a long trip. Pay attention to tire inflation pressure and tread depth.
- Check your battery: If your engine is slow to start and/or your lights are dim, your battery may be nearing the end of its life. Look also for damage, corrosion or other signs of deterioration.
- Listen to and feel the brakes: If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to the shop for a brake inspection.
- Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner: Most manufacturers recommend replacing wiper blades every six months to 12 months.
- Top off engine oil and other fluids: Check the oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids. When adding fluids, add the correct levels and make sure they meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.
- Replenish emergency kit supplies: Be sure you have a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking supplies, nonperishable snacks, battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.
Leave early, be prepared, stay safe
- Leave early and allow extra time to get to your destination, so you are not in a rush.
- Identify alternate routes in case you encounter congestion or road closures.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Program your GPS before your drive.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle wears their seatbelt.
- Never drive impaired.
- If you have to pull over, go as far as possible on the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and call for help.
Published November 22, 2023