Long lines, crowded roads expected for holiday travelers

Nov 23, 2016

If you plan on traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday, you’ll have plenty of company. This year will mark the eighth consecutive year travel volume is expected to increase.

Thanksgiving travel is expected to be at its highest point since 2007, according to AAA. Elizabeth Carey, AAA public affairs manager for Western and Central New York, said 48.7 million Americans are expected to travel this year, one million more than in 2015. According to Carey, there are a couple of key factors behind the expected increase. 

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be a busy place over the long holiday weekend.
Credit File photo

“One of the reasons this year for the growth is that a lot of people are back to work,” Carey said. “We’re seeing low unemployment, some reasonable gas prices, and that’s giving people some extra disposable income. We think that’s really driving people, getting them really excited to spend the holiday with their friends and family and willing to travel for it.”

AAA forecasts 89 percent of travelers are expected to drive this year, while air travel is expected to increase by 1.6 percent. New York travelers are expected to increase by 40,000. More than 30 million New Yorkers are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday.

“We’ll see a lot of people that maybe have moved out of Buffalo for jobs over the years returning to Buffalo, and I think they’ll like what they see when they get here,” Carey said. “They’re going to be impressed with Canalside, RiverWorks, everything going on with the waterfront. Buffalo’s landscape has changed a lot maybe since the last time they were home. I think we have a lot to impress people when they do return to Buffalo for Thanksgiving.”

Carey also offered some tips for successful travel. She says people should be prepared and give themselves extra time and avoid distractions, if driving.

“With all of these people traveling, we’re going to see a lot of congestion on the roads, a lot of traffic on the thruways. So you want to make sure you travel early, don’t be in a rush. You want to make sure you put that cell phone down.”