ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Its the busiest time of year for travel and with fewer health restrictions, travel experts say more people are headed home for the holidays. According to AAA , this year is projected to be the 3rd busiest year for Thanksgiving travel since they started tracking in 2000.
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport says the Thanksgiving rush is in full swing, and Amtrak says trains are either at capacity or close to it.
Amtrak spokesperson, Jason Abrams told WFXR, “Virginia has become one of our most popular destinations as a whole, especially compared to pre covid. Our ridership is up significantly more than it was before covid.”
Even with increased railroad services to and from the Commonwealth this year, Abrams recommends booking as early as possible and arriving at least 45 minutes before your ride takes off. He also advises wearing a face mask and using the capacity percentage indicator on the Amtrak app or website to book trains with less people.
“If you have the flexibility to maybe wait an hour or 2 hours before when you want to book, and you see a train is 90 percent sold out versus maybe 60 percent out, you can take the 60 percent out,” said Abrams.
When it comes to hitting the roads, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are expected to be the busiest times for traffic according AAA.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson, Morgan Dean said, “If you can leave before 8 a.m. Or after 8 p.m. on Wednesday the 23rd, you should avoid some of the highest traffic.”
He says one of the biggest things you can do to prep for the roadways is to mentally prepare for delays. “Sometimes it makes it a little bit better on your own brain to think that way before you even head out,” said Dean.
If you plan on taking to the skies, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is becoming more concerned about what’s inside your bag. A representative says they set a record this year, with 8 guns reported at checkpoints. Airport officials say make sure you empty your bag before packing and check the TSA website to see what you can and cannot bring with you.
No matter how you’re traveling you’re advised to leave way earlier than normal, bring a snack , bring a mask and expect crowds.
Dean reminds drivers to limit distractions. He advises keeping your phone out of your hands while driving by mounting it somewhere on your car or having someone else read directions for you.