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Here's when *not* to hit the road this Thanksgiving

People stand at a baggage carrousel at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, waiting and hoping their luggage made the same trip they did.
Ann Thompson
Travelers await their luggage at a CVG baggage carrousel.

Travel looks a little more normal this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. Spokesman Dustin Baird says an expected 54.6 million Americans will go at least 50 miles away from home for the weekend.

“It’s about 1.5% increase since last year, 2021,” he says. “In Ohio alone … about 2.2 million Ohioans plan to travel over Thanksgiving weekend.”

According to Baird, about 1.3% more Ohioans will be traveling for Thanksgiving than last year.

There should be 4.5 million more people flying somewhere this year. Baird says the increase comes despite higher costs for plane tickets.

“The rates fluctuate all the time. I think people just want to see their families quicker.”

Some tips whether you travel by plane, train or automobile

If you are flying, it's important to get to the airport a couple of hours early, not just to account for security delays, but to get a parking space at the airport.

“Because in this day and age, flights get canceled constantly, especially around the holidays. It seems to be the norm,” he says. “You have that app right at your disposal. You can check-in, typically it’s 24 hours beforehand, but also, you get constant notifications if there is some sort of flight change or delay for that flight.”

Baird says more Ohioans will be taking other forms of transportation, too. “We’ve increased in this area, too, with about 60,000 people; an increase of nearly 29% traveling by bus, train or cruises.”

Those increases are reflected nationally: 23% more Americans will be riding the bus or train or taking a cruise for the long weekend.

He says the rush will start on the day before Thanksgiving.

“Worst times to travel are between about 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. That’s probably the biggest day that’s going to be a huge issue for road travelers. The next day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the worst time to go. (On) the 25th (it’s) from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. until the 27th."

If you want to avoid heavy traffic, like Baird, plan on leaving early. “Those typical rush hour-hours. If you’re an early riser like I am — my wife is very reluctant — but we get on the road by 5 a.m. or 6.”

AAA expects this to be the third busiest Thanksgiving weekend since 2000.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.