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What To Expect On Your Thanksgiving Commute

Crowded terminal at Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport

As you set out to gather with family this Thanksgiving weekend, you can expect a lot of company no matter how you’re getting there. 

For those who plan to travel by air, you’ll have to first deal with the crowds on the ground.

Tampa International Airport is expected to receive 600,000 visitors this week – including 42,000 on Thanksgiving.

Crowded airports and longer lines may make it necessary for travelers to arrive anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours early to check in and get through security.

TIA spokesperson Emily Nipps advises those who are not frequent fliers that if they plan to bring the cranberry sauce or wine with them that “the gel and liquid rules applies to food items” – meaning they can’t go in your carry-on bag.

Some more advice for novice travelers - that TSA has recently changed their procedures and that “anything larger than a cell phone needs to be taken out of a carry-on bag and put into a bin,” said Nipps. 

For those dropping off early presents, Nipps advises not to wrap them before you travel to deter any delays.

If your commute is by car, timing is key for the expected 2.3 million drivers on Florida’s roads.

The earlier the better since most plan to leave midday Wednesday. If an early departure is not possible, Carissa Chesanek from the travel website The Points Guy advises that the best times during the day to drive are from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Drivers can expect to pay a bit more for gas this year. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of unleaded is averaging around $2.49. That's the highest it's been at Thanksgiving in three years.

In preparation for the expected 50 mile average journey people will be taking this holiday weekend, car maintenance is crucial for safe journeys.

One of the overlooked parts of a car is the battery. AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins warns drivers, ”dead batteries tend to come when people are leaving their lights on or they’re keeping their cell phones plugged in, and it just drains out the battery.”

If you find yourself in need of help this weekend, AAA has an app for Apple and Windows that can provide roadside assistance. 

Kyanna Riggins is a digital news intern at WUSF Public Media for fall 2017.
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