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Happy trails: Travel tips for your Thanksgiving trip


The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.  — The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year with notorious transportation delays, traffic and travel snags all occasionally holding up travelers.

But a little foresight and some planning may help ease some travel headaches, experts say.

Traffic of I-81 is expected to increase with Holiday traffic this week.
(Journal photo by Ron Agnir)

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day represent some of the busiest travel days of the year for all means of transportation, according to AAA. There are an estimated 9.38 million Thanksgiving holiday travelers in the South Atlantic region this year, an increase of 3.2 percent from the 9.09 million in 2016.

AAA suggests travelers leave plenty of extra time for travel, adding people should depart from home far earlier in the day than they normally would at any other time of year — whether they are starting a road trip or heading to an airport or bus or railway station.

Another tip is to turn your smart device into a travel tool. With mobile devices, there are options to sign up with airlines to receive flight status updates on phones, or loading smartphones with mobile travel alert apps from Amtrak or state highway authorities. Before leaving home, travelers should make sure their phone is fully charged and holds all important numbers, including family, friends, hotel, airline, rental car agency and credit card companies.

Travelers should also gas up the night before travel. Often, no one leaves enough time for buying gas on the way to the airport or destination.

If traveling on a flight, it is also recommended to not overpack checked luggage; overstuffed bags that must be opened for a security check are much harder to repack. Also, if the airline has an app, download it. The airline will send alerts if a flight is delayed or if there are gate changes.

It is also a good idea to bring provisions.

Take snacks, games, books, magazines, portable music or DVD players and other diversions to pass the time if your flight is delayed or you’re stuck in traffic. This is especially helpful for those traveling with children.

James Garrity, public and community relations manager at AAA, said the top emergencies the company faces around the holidays include: dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. He said there will be an estimated 330,000 motorists across the country this Thanksgiving weekend that AAA will rescue.

“We recommend that everyone get their cars checked out before they head out on the road,” Garrity said. “Make sure you put air in your tires, get your vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop and make sure that you have a battery that can withstand the cold temperatures. Drowsiness is also an issue while traveling. We recommend people make sure they are fully rested before travel. If you become drowsy, you should take a break every 100 miles or so.”

Forecasters are predicting temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s for the week in the Eastern Panhandle, with mostly sunny days and low humidity until Sunday.

“We are expecting weather to be mostly dry Monday and Tuesday for the Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan county areas,” said Dan Hoffman, National Weather Service meteorologist. “There will be a cold front that moves in through Tuesday night, and rain is predicted to be scattered overnight. However, it looks pretty mild the rest of the week, with temperatures in the high 40s and high 50s through Wednesday and Thanksgiving day.”

For updates on upcoming weather forecasts in the area, visit

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