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Return to normal Thanksgiving, return to normal holiday travel headaches

For many of us, this Thanksgiving is the first in at least two years we’re able to gather again in person.

YORK, Pa. — As Thanksgiving time rolls around again, travel preparations are again underway.

According to AAA, 53.4 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday. While that’s the highest number since the pandemic began, it’s still about 5 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

“We do expect to see a rebound,” said TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein, who also gave a warning to travelers to brace for crowded skies. “Airports will be busy, they’ll be congested. So we want people to show up at their airports—especially large airports—about two hours before their scheduled flight.”

Traffic will also pile up on the roads, the expected mode of Thanksgiving transportation for 48.3 million people this year traveling more than 50 miles.

“We just remind drivers to pack your patience, give yourself extra time, and pack some things to keep your passengers happy, especially if you’re traveling with young kids,” said Doni Lee Spiegal of AAA Central Penn.

The busiest travel days are usually the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as well as the Sunday afterward.

If you’re booking hotels or transportation, don’t try to get any last minute bargains, experts said; prices go up as the holiday approaches.

“The sooner you make your reservations the better,” Speigal said.

Driving to Thanksgiving gatherings is taking a bite out of drivers’ wallets in Pennsylvania, where the average price of gas is $3.61 per gallon.

Tyler Royster, 27, of York Township, plans to drive to his mother’s house near Baltimore for Thanksgiving. Because he also works over the Maryland border, he has been paying a lot more for gas in recent months.

“It felt like in just three or four years, it went from $1.50-ish to $3 or $4,” Royster said. “This is prioritizing over—I play games—so games, going out with friends or anything like that.”

The surge in Thanksgiving travel comes amid a slight surge in COVID cases in Pennsylvania. Travel experts reminded travelers that masks are still required in airports and on airplanes.

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