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

It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year as people try to get home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 7:52 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year as people try to get home for the holiday. Some of those crowds are headed through the Burlington International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration says the Burlington airport is expected to screen 2,500 people Wednesday, compared to around 1,750 on a normal day.

Some people are headed to see family while others are getting away from the cold Vermont November weather.

New at the airport this year for the first big travel push-- four security machines with the goal of streamlining the process.

“When you get to the security checkpoint and you’re about to put your items on the conveyor belt, take all of your loose items-- your keys and your wallet and change all, that stuff-- take them out of your pockets and put them in your carry-on,” said Daniel Velez with TSA New England.

But even with the streamlined process, Velez still recommends getting to the airport two hours early, especially during this time of year.

“The thing about travel is it’s unpredictable. So I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a point where it’ll be less than a two-hour before we recommend you get to the airport because travel schedules can change, and flights get canceled. There’s a myriad of things that can happen that can slow down the screening process,” said Velez.

And if you’d rather not fly, there’s a new way to travel for some in Vermont. Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express recently expanded from Rutland to Middlebury, Vergennes and Burlington. Amtrak said that it’s sold out twice this week.

“It saves me a drive, and flying is just not fun these days, and I really want to support this,” said Rhonda Freed from South Burlington.

“You can sit and watch the countryside go by instead of focusing on white-knuckling it down the highway,” said Michael Tortora from San Francisco.

If it’s not planes or trains for you this holiday, the roads are also expected to be full. Nationwide, AAA expects nearly 55 million people to travel during the long holiday weekend, and most of them will go by car.

AAA predicts 49 million people will take a road trip, compared to 4.5 million catching a flight and nearly 1.5 million going by bus, train or cruise ship.

In New England alone, AAA predicts nearly 3 million will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday.

Experts recommend that you leave early Wednesday morning or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving, and avoid traveling between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.