ATLANTA -- If you're planning to to travel to visit friends or family this Thanksgiving, you're not alone.
According to travel service provider AAA, nearly 48.7 million Americans are expected to journey more than 50 miles or more from home -- roughly 90 percent of those traveling by car. Overall, that's 1 million more travelers from last year, and the most since 2007. Of those traveling this year, more than 1.5 million Georgians will be leaving town.
AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend attributes the increase in travelers this year to the economy.
"Consumer confidence is up. People are feeling more comfortable about their job and spending," Townsend said. "Having affordable gas prices of course is a key contributor to people feeling comfortable getting on the road."
With all the increased traffic, how can you avoid a travel nightmare? 11Alive has some quick facts to help you plan, so your journey can be smooth sailing.
What are the best days to travel?
The Thanksgiving travel period, as defined by AAA, is from Wednesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 27. The most popular travel dates are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day and Sunday after the holiday.
So what's the best time to hit the road for the holiday? Using historical Google Maps traffic data, Google determined the best time to travel ahead of the holiday is before 6 a.m. the Sunday before Thanksgiving. On your return trip, you should get on the road around 6 a.m. Friday.
Airports will also see about 60 percent more traffic than on a regular workday. If you have to fly through one of the five busiest airports to get where you're going (Atlanta is one of them!), Google suggests getting to the airport with ample time for your flight. If you're traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson, passengers should plan to get there either before noon or depart after 4 p.m. to avoid peak hours.
On Sunday, several travelers told 11Alive they were already heading to their Thanksgiving destinations with hopes of avoiding the crowds. "Actually it was great because the parking lots were open here at the airport," Josh Hall of Ellijay said.
Also at the airport on Sunday was UGA student Kelby Canada. He was heading home to Orlando to see family. "Trying to get out early and then I will try to be back pretty early too," he said.
But despite their best efforts, some were already running into problems. "Flight this morning was overbooked and flight tonight at 7:20 is booked solid. So we may be able to get out of here tomorrow," Lynda Morgan-Moore said as she was trying to fly to Maine.
The worst days?
The Wednesday before and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, according to Google. These days have historically been some of the busiest. Most people would rather not travel on Thanksgiving day and most are likely trying to get back home in time for work Monday.
To avoid the heaviest delays, try to leave before 3 p.m. on Wednesday and after 4 p.m. on Saturday.
How will most travelers get where they're going?
"There are some that are going to be flying, but certainly the vast majority are going to be getting on the road traveling this Thanksgiving holiday," Townsend said.
43.5 million travelers are planning to drive this season. In Georgia, that number is about 1.2 million. With gas prices hovering just around $2.17, nationally, that means much more traffic than usual.
About 3.7 million people are expected to fly this year, about 100,000 of them from Georgia.
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