DULLES, Va. (DC News Now) — Travel officials say Thanksgiving week will likely have some of the busiest travel days since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re traveling for the holiday, particularly in the DMV or Virginia regions.
AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Morgan Dean estimates more than 54 million people will travel at least 50 miles on the road for the holiday. About 1.3 million of them will be in Virginia.
“[The national number] is still about 6% shy of the numbers we saw back in 2019,” Dean said. Virginia’s numbers are lagging slightly behind.
Dean’s advice is to hit the road at a smart time so you’re not stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He said to avoid that, travel Wednesday either before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. and Sunday either before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
“If you’re doing that midday leave that’s when you tend to get yourself in a lot of the backups out there,” he said.
The Virginia Department of Transportation said many Virginia roadways will lift work zones and lane closures.
Additionally, tolls and HOV restrictions will be lifted on the 66 Express Lanes inside the beltway between I-495 and Route 29 in Rosslyn. However, the tolls and HOV rules the 66 Express Lanes outside the beltway between I-495 and Route 29 in Gainesville will remain in effect.
As for the skies, TSA Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein recommends getting to the terminal at least two hours early for a domestic flight.
“We do expect that Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving will be extremely busy, and then again the Sunday afterward,” she said.
It’s worth noting that you can get on the plane with Thanksgiving leftovers, but there are some things you need to know.
“If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it, or pour it, it should go in your checked back,” Farbstein said.
So, cranberry sauce and gravy need to go in that checked bag, but turkey, stuffing pies, and casseroles can go in your carry-on.
VDOT also unveiled a helpful tool that estimates what traffic will look like at specific times during the holiday. To use it, click here.