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AAA urges New England travelers to be patient and flexible during Thanksgiving week

Thanksgiving Travel In Boston
Boston Globe
Carter Otis, 13, of Portsmouth, N.H., wears a pumpkin pie hat while waiting for a train at South Station in Boston during the 2019 Thanksgiving travel season. AAA’s annual holiday forecast predicts this year’s travel numbers will represent 98% of pre-pandemic volumes.

Thanksgiving continues to be one of the busiest holidays for New England travel. AAA Northeast said Monday that about 2 million travelers will be on the road across New England.

“Look for a lot of congestion on the roadways, especially in the major metro corridors like New York, Boston,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast’s spokeswoman. “A lot of times people leave on the morning of Thanksgiving for a short jaunt to go to Granny’s for pumpkin pie, it’s a judgment call.”

Mayko said to avoid traveling during the peak period of 4 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 25, 26 and 27.

Instead, head out during early morning on Nov. 23 or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Before you hit the road, check your car

AAA’s annual holiday forecast predicts this year’s travel numbers will represent 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. Mayko said most will travel by car, and she encourages people to make sure their vehicles are in top shape.

“Preventative maintenance is the key,” she said. “You should have had your car in top operating condition, at least check your battery, check your oil, change all this stuff before you head out on a long trip.” The last thing you want to see on the road is us, is AAA!”

About 55 million people will be traveling across the nation this week, which is a 1.5% increase over last year, according to AAA Northeast. The travel period of Nov. 23 to 27 will see the third-highest volume of travelers since AAA started tracking holiday numbers in 2000. Only 2005 and 2019 were busier years.

“Travel by transportation modes other than car or plane [are] seeing large increases because travel restrictions have been relaxed, and people are more comfortable taking public transportation," Mayko said. “It’s no surprise — travel by trains, buses and cruises are returning in a big way this year.”

Troopers on alert

Connecticut state troopers also want to remind travelers that there will be many more cars on state roads during the holiday week. State police are ramping up additional patrol personnel starting Wednesday, focusing on aggressive, unsafe and drunken drivers.

In a statement, Col. Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer of the state police, asked all drivers to follow traffic laws.

“Please be our extra set of eyes on the highways and call 911 if you spot an emergency,” Mellekas said. “During this very busy long holiday weekend, please take the time to arrive at your destination safely. Check traffic and weather reports before you leave home, and be patient as the roads will be filled with other drivers.”

At the airport

State troopers also encourage people who are flying to double-check flight times to avoid waiting around Bradley International Airport terminals in Windsor Locks. The active pickup and drop-off of passengers is permitted at curbside in front of the terminals, but waiting is not allowed and leaving a vehicle unattended is prohibited and may result in a fine.

Catherine is the Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live. Catherine and the WWL team focus on going beyond the headlines to bring in meaningful conversations that put Connecticut in context.