BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — No matter if it is by car or plane, many travel agencies say this holiday season is already showing an increased number of travelers.

“We are expecting to see travel numbers getting back to pre-pandemic levels, in terms of what a normal weekday would be,” said Lisa Farbstien, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Farbstein says back in 2019, TSA recorded nearly 2.4 million people traveling through the skies for Thanksgiving.

In addition, as things get closer to normal, motorists will want to make sure to leave themselves plenty of time to get to the airport.

“In the Roanoke-Lynchburg area, it is important to get to the airport 90 minutes to two hours early because people may not be familiar with the checkpoint protocols, or they haven’t traveled since the pandemic,” said Farbstein.

However, just like any holiday season, there are multiple reasons for long TSA checkpoint times.

“We are going to see people showing up with ham or turkey. I mean a full frozen turkey because they promised their mom or grandma that they are going to handle the turkey this year,” Farbstein explained.

If you plan to drive, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says it is important to take the same precautions by using their Travel Trends Map. The map shows the busiest travel times and where drivers can expect heavy congestion.

“The traffic data that we have shows that the busiest travel days are on Tuesday with heavy conditions of congestion occurring between noon and 8 p.m. We also expect heavy congestions on Wednesday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.,” said Jason Bond, spokesperson for VDOT’s Salem District.

To make things easier, VDOT will lift lane closures and suspend any highway work zones from noon on Wednesday, Nov. 24 through noon on Monday, Nov. 29.

In addition, VDOT shared the following information about high occupancy vehicles, tunnels, and more around Virginia for Thursday, Nov. 25:

  • All HOV restrictions on I-66 and rush-hour tolls on the 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway will be lifted on Thursday.
  • HOV restrictions and Express Lanes tolls will be lifted on Thursday for I-64, I-264, and I-564. The 64 Express Lanes in Norfolk are free and open to motorists outside of normal operating hours.

VDOT also asks holiday travelers to remember the safety guidelines listed below:

  • If you plan to drink, have a designated driver
  • Buckle up and ensure children and car seats are secured
  • Slow down for snowy and icy roadways
  • Use signals for lane changes and turns
  • Take a break if you are drowsy
  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in case of a breakdown in the cold
  • Don’t drive distracted, and speak up if someone else is doing so

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