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Planning to travel for Thanksgiving? Experts say there's a time to avoid

AAA Thanksgiving travel 2019.jpg
Posted at 12:38 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 15:55:00-05

NEVADA (KTNV) — It's no surprise that travelers are expected to hit the road again this year for the Thanksgiving holiday, but the count is near a record high.

More than 55 million travelers are planning a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That number is the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2000 and ranking only behind 2005's record count.

The vast majority of those travelers are expected to drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally - with trips taking almost four times longer than usual in major metros.

"Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway," said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Nevada. "The economy remains strong, wages are increasing, and Americans are looking to spend some of that extra cash on traveling."

The company has the 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast below:

-Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
-Planes: With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
-Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.

Warm-weather destinations are also a popular choice for Thanksgiving, according to the automobile association, with the top spots ranked as-is:

1. Orlando, Florida
2. Anaheim, California
3. New York, New York
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
5. Honolulu, Hawaii
6. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
7. Tampa, Florida
8. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
9. Phoenix, Arizona
10. Miami, Florida

AAA Nevada also says it projects nearly 3,000 members will be calling for help during the Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27 - Dec. 1) with the top three calls for service will be for dead batteries, flat tires, then vehicle lockouts.

"Drive carefully to make it to your destination safely, and don't forget your emergency kit just in case, "Avila said. "Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week."

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period runs from Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.