EAST PROVIDENCE R.I. (WPRI) — After a significant reduction in travel volume last Thanksgiving, AAA anticipates a return to almost pre-pandemic levels this year.
The forecast from AAA calls for a 13% increase in travelers, with more than 53 million Americans expected to hit the road.
“Because of the vaccines, families have a lot more confidence in making plans to get together,” said Diana Gugliotta, senior manager of public affairs for AAA Northeast. “They’re craving human contact. They want to reunite with family and friends.”
Nearly 2.1 million New Englanders plan to drive to their Thanksgiving destination, which is up 8.7% from last year, according to Gugliotta. She said Wednesday will be the busiest day on the road, especially when commuters are heading home from work.
“We can anticipate in our immediate area about a 360% increase in traffic,” Gugliotta said. “Try to leave earlier in the morning or later in the night after rush hour traffic.”
For those planning to fly, Gugliotta recommended getting to the airport early: at least two hours for domestic flights and three hours for international. With the recent staffing shortages, she also said to be prepared for flight delays and cancelations.
“Check the airline website for cancelations, download the app. You can set up alerts so if there’s any disruptions to your flight, you will get a text alert,” Gugliotta added.
John Goodman, a spokesperson for Rhode Island TF. Green International Airport, told 12 News the PVD Airport App is helpful when it comes to flight updates and “identifying high-volume airport periods when lines may be longer.”
If you need to rent a car, Gugliotta said now is the time to book since there’s still a shortage of vehicles.
“It’s very unlikely that someone just arrive at an airport, walk over to a car rental counter and expect to have a vehicle at the ready available,” she said.
With gas prices up more than a dollar per gallon compared to last year, Gugilotta said there are ways to save on fuel.
“Get all that extra weight out of your vehicle. That makes a big difference,” she said, suggesting taking off bike and kayak racks.
“If your vehicle has an economy mode, go ahead and switch it into economy mode, or if you have a hybrid, just put it in to full electric mode. That makes a big difference,” Gugliotta added, saying the switch could save about 10% on gas.
Getting travel insurance can also be helpful, according to Gugliotta, and she also advised staying informed with the latest COVID-19 updates from the CDC. She said AAA has a resource “that explains the guidance across the U.S., but also drills down to cities and towns that might have very specific mandates.”