Millions hit the highways to spend Thanksgiving with family, friends

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 5:51 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 7:33 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year as millions of Americans try to get home for the holiday.

Drivers say the Thanksgiving travel rush is real and that although traveling can be a pain, what they’re focused on is staying safe on the road, saving money and spending quality time with their loved ones.

People are hitting the roads in droves this year after two holiday seasons impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’m excited to see my family. That’s definitely my favorite part,” said Leah Dollar, who is traveling to Connecticut.

If planes or trains aren’t your style this holiday, driving is always an option, but the roads are definitely expected to be full.

“The desire for people to get back together with loved ones, they’re going to do it no matter what the cost,” said Aixa Diaz of AAA. “They’re going to budget in other areas of their life, but travel doesn’t appear to be one of them.”

Nationwide, AAA expects nearly 55 million people to travel during the long holiday weekend, and most of them will go by car. In New England alone, AAA predicts nearly 3 million will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday.

Drivers from Vermont say that choosing to drive was an easy choice.

“I didn’t know I was going to Maryland until a few days ago, so it was a little too late to make other accommodations. But when you drive you can just hop in and go not really too much planning... it’s cheaper than flying or probably taking a train,” said Julia Briggs, who is traveling to Maryland.

“Flying is just expensive and inconvenient. And the one time I took the train, it was kind of an I don’t know, it was kind of an ordeal. I also have my guinea pigs and it’s hard to travel with them,” Dollar said.

But not everybody felt the urge to hit the road this Thanksgiving.

“We’ve got family all over the place and everybody’s pretty busy these holidays and having their own things going on. And a lot of the kids are getting older and have their own plans, too. So we’re going to be staying, just with my two kids and my wife and enjoying a nice warm holiday together,” said Jerald Novak, who’s not traveling this year.

But the one thing everyone can agree on is that they want to stay safe this holiday.

“Take breaks when you’re too tired, caffeinated. Stay, don’t get hungry. Don’t overeat, listen to your body,” Briggs said.

“I just try and like make sure that I’m alert and awake. If I ever like feel like I’m too tired to drive, I pull over,” Dollar said.

The day after Thanksgiving is also expected to be extremely busy on the road. When leaving, experts recommend drivers avoid traveling between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Traveling for turkey, Vermonters among millions on the move for the holidays