Travel on off-peak times for Thanksgiving

While AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts a slight dip in the number of people traveling this Thanksgiving, the State Highway Administration is warning motorists to plan ahead and leave at off-peak times if driving.
Approximately 903,000 Maryland residents are expected to travel 50 or more miles for a round trip, which is a slight decrease from 2012, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Christine Delise, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said this year the survey was taken during the government shutdown, which might point to the downturn for Maryland travelers.
"Despite the drop this year, we're still looking at very healthy travel volumes," she said. "Thanksgiving is one of those sentimental holidays, it's rooted deep in family tradition."
In 2007, there were more than 1 million Maryland travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday, she said. Approximately 819,000 residents will be driving this Thanksgiving, while another 62,200 will be flying.
This year there was a 20 percent increase in the number of people taking buses, trains or watercrafts to 21,800.
Delise said while it looks like a huge jump, because other modes of travel make up only 2 percent of the market of travelers, an uptick of a few thousand makes for a large percentage. Buses from Baltimore have become increasingly popular over the years, with built in Wi-Fi access, she said.
The busiest travel day will be Wednesday, Nov. 27. According to AAA, about 37 percent of travelers intend to leave the day before Thanksgiving and 33 percent intend to return the following Sunday.
David Buck, a spokesperson for the State Highway Administration, warns to be cognizant of peak and off-peak travel times as well. He said trying to leave Wednesday between 2 and 7 p.m. "is just not the best idea."
All non-emergency roadwork on SHA-maintained roadways will be suspended between Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. to Dec. 2 at 9 a.m.
While the weather forecast may change, the expectation of rain can make for an even slower drive. Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates a chance of rain both Tuesday night and Wednesday.
"At a minimum, people need to start thinking about [inclement weather] now, having a secondary plan and making sure they have enough time," he said.