Thanksgiving trips will break records; 9 tips to keep you healthy

Whether you plan to take a plane, train or car for your Thanksgiving travels this year, experts recommend preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Fifty-five million travelers are expected to depart between Wednesday and November 26. according to projections from AAA. The Transportation Security Administration expects to break records on November 26 2.9 million travelers descending at airports across the country.

“People just feel more confident since the pandemic to get out and travel again,” said Doug Shupe, corporate communications manager for the Automobile Club of Southern California, the local AAA affiliate. “We are actually exceeding the 2019 figures.”

Shupe said AAA expects a 3.5% increase in the number of travelers in Southern California for Thanksgiving compared to the previous year, the second increase in two years. For LAX, up to 2.5 million passengers are expected to pass through the airport during the 10-day holiday period, an increase of 300,000 passengers from 2022.

Joe Brancatelli, a veteran travel writer who blogs at Joe sent mesaid Thanksgiving is one of the most difficult holidays to travel because everyone has the same deadline.

“Everyone has to be somewhere on Thursday,” Brancatelli said, “and everyone, regardless of religion, race or creed, is celebrating.”

Here are tips shared by the experts to help you travel during the holidays.

Most travelers in Southern California plan to drive. Shupe said that of the 4.6 million people traveling in Southern California for the Thanksgiving holiday, 3.9 million will choose to fly or use another mode of transportation.

“We're going to see the sugarcane freeways here in Southern California, especially Tuesday, Wednesday and probably Sunday as people return home,” Shupe said, referring to the infamous aerial photos of Los Angeles freeway traffic during the Thanksgiving rush.

If you're driving, stand up and beam, and move on. Shupe recommended leaving as early in the day as possible to avoid a commute. Brancatelli agreed, saying, “The one advantage of driving: you have control over the schedule.”

AAA Projects Wednesday afternoon and evening will be the busiest times for Southern California highways, with the 5 Freeway between Los Angeles and Bakersfield the hardest-hit lane. Sunday traffic on Highway 15 between Highway 10 and San Diego is also expected to be severely affected.

Inspect your vehicle. Shupe said AAA expects to assist 90,000 stranded drivers from Wednesday through Nov. 26, most due to vehicle malfunctions.

At a minimum, he recommends checking your car's tread and tire pressure, the condition of your car's battery and lights, and making any necessary repairs before heading out.

Do your research. “Be your own best travel agent,” Brancatelli said.

Among the things you should research, especially if you're flying: the weather forecast for where you're traveling, what hotels are available if you get stuck somewhere overnight, and what food options are available nearby.

Keep alternate routes in mind. Before you leave for your flight, find out what other flights from the airport are going to your destination that day, in case you experience delays or cancellations.

“If something goes wrong with your particular flight, don't expect them to have the alternatives for you,” Brancatelli said. “Now do your homework.”

If you fly, arrive at the airport early. Brancatelli said travelers should aim to arrive at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

For those traveling through LAX and looking to kill time, The Times recently published a guide on how to best explore two miles inside the infamous airport. It includes breakfast places, art and the best place to take selfies.

Check in for your flight online. An easy way to save time is to check in for your flight in advance through the airline's app or website, instead of queuing at a kiosk before going through security.

Travel without a checked bag. Brancatelli also says that avoiding traveling with checked luggage can help ensure a smooth trip.

“The reason you wouldn't check a bag is you eliminate one of the points of error,” Brancatelli said. 'If you can carry it [it] you are much more flexible.”

Packing food. TSA regulations don't allow water or other liquids through security, but Brancatelli recommends packing something high in protein and low in fat to get you through the airport. It is also a cheaper alternative to the airport fee.

Show gratitude to those who work during the holidays. “The employees will be very stressed and overworked, at least if everything works properly,” Brancatelli said.

Shupe agreed: “Practice patience and stay positive even when things don't go as expected; remember that this is often not the fault of the people who work these holidays to get you to your destination.

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