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Service experts have advice for drivers looking to travel this Thanksgiving week

With Thanksgiving on the way, the Alabama branch of The American Automobile Association has advice for travelers looking to run the roads this upcoming holiday week.

AAA reports that traffic will inevitably increase this year following last year’s pandemic. Thirteen percent more drivers will be on the roads. This adds up to more than 53 million Americans nationwide. However, travel this Thanksgiving will also be 5 percent lower than it was in 2019.

AAA Alabama spokesman Clay Ingram said though traffic is slightly lower this week than previous holiday weeks, drivers should still brace themselves for a busy turkey season.

“So, a little bit less [traffic] than a typical Thanksgiving but not enough for us to notice to be honest,” Ingram said. “It’s gonna be busy. It’s gonna feel like a holiday travel weekend. There’s gonna be a lot of cars on the road, and if you’re traveling you need to plan ahead and prepare for some extra time in the car.”

Ingram said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after will be the worst days for traffic. In order to prepare for the rise in traffic, Ingram said drivers should consider leaving on travel days where there are less drivers on the road.

“If you have the ability to travel, say, on Tuesday before Thanksgiving and then come home the following Monday, that’s a pretty long stretch in between there, but those will be by far the best days to travel,” Ingram said. “Otherwise, Saturday is a pretty good day to travel as most people tend to head home on Sunday.”

In addition to traveling ahead of time, Ingram said he recommends drivers get their car parts checked to prevent a breakdown. He also recommends drivers make an emergency kit to keep in their vehicles in case they are stuck on the roads for prolonged periods of time. Items may include duct tape, reflectors, a flashlight, jumper cables, bottled water and snacks.

Gas prices are another concern drivers might have this coming week. AAA reports that prices have spiked over the last month by about 30 cents per gallon. The state’s average was $3.20 per gallon as of Nov. 12.

Though prices have been on the rise, Ingram said drivers can expect them to fall in the coming weeks.

“I think that’s kind of our high price point of the year,” Ingram said. “I think we’ve got nowhere to go but down at this point, and I think we might see it drop down just a little bit before Thanksgiving, and then we will probably hit a bit of a plateau there during the Thanksgiving week.”

Though prices will likely decrease, Ingram said Alabamians should not only rely on the gas they get at their regular stations. He said it is good for residents to look around before settling on one station for their gas.

“We typically don’t see too many lines during the Thanksgiving holiday, but it is important too that you price shop for gas,” Ingram said. “Don’t just go to your normal station because that’s your normal station. You need to pay attention to the prices. Be sure you’re buying the cheapest priced gas in your normal travel area.”

Those interested can download the AAA Mobile app available on Google Play and iTunes app stores. The app includes a fuel price finder that works with the phone’s GPS system to help users find the cheapest priced gas available in their area. The finder works nationwide.

Travelers may get their gas a day or two before they plan to leave, but Ingram says lines are typically uncommon during the holiday week.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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