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Thanksgiving travel expected to reach 2-year high as Californians take to the roadways

On Wednesday, highways are expected to be jampacked as more than 7 million Californian’s hit the road for the holiday.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Thanksgiving day travel will hit a two-year high as travel volume is expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels, according to a new holiday forecast by the American Automobile Association.

Backed up freeways and highways might become a familiar sight as tens of millions of American’s are expected to get out for the holidays.

On Wednesday, highways are expected to be jampacked as more than 7 million Californian’s hit the road.

AAA predicts more than 53.4 million Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. This includes more than 7 million Californian’s traveling by planes, trains, and about 90% by automobile.

“Friday, we’re driving down to San Francisco and back, so, hoping that’s good for travel,” said Lolly Soulier, of Roseville. 

Soulier is baking six different flavored pies for Thanksgiving. She's thankful her daughter is flying in from college, just time to keep up with family tradition.

“We have Christmas kickoff, we call it. We set up the tree and everything the day after Thanksgiving,” she said.

Frank Cira dropped into the Sacramento area from San Diego to visit family. He said that he arrived to a "pretty crowded" airport.

Days before Thanksgiving, the roads are already packed with travel expected to peak Wednesday evening.

“This year, it’s generally safe to gather and so people really want to do that and make that connection,” said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA of Northern California.

Neither coronavirus nor record setting gas prices seem to be deterring travelers, Avila said. Ahead of the holiday rush, he said people should use the extra time and get to wherever they're heading early.

“Travel volumes have recovered within 5% of pre-pandemic levels, and air travel has almost entirely recovered from its dramatic decline during, up 80% over last year,” Avila said. “Those traveling this Thanksgiving can expect to face more crowded roads and airports than they’ve seen in some time.”

To make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready, you can check AAA’s Travel Restrictions map for the latest on any COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates and vaccination requirements. The map can be viewed below and HERE.

Experts say the best time to hit the road tomorrow will be early in the morning or late at night with travel expecting to peak between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

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