MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The American Automobile Association says nearly 2.9 million Floridians will be joining about 55 million Americans in making plans to travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA says this year would be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, second only to 2005.

As is always the case, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, AAA says.

But be warned, the day before the holiday is forecast to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metro cities.

“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon, drivers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”

“Florida drivers should expect the heaviest highway congestion on Wednesday, from 3pm-8pm,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for the association. “AAA recommends drivers plan ahead, identify alternate routes in case there are back-ups, and leave early. Driving on Thanksgiving Day may not be ideal, but there are much fewer people on the road.”

Here is their 2019 travel forecast:
• Automobiles:
o U.S. – 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
o Florida – 2.6 million Floridians are forecast to drive, 3% more than last year. The second-most since 2005.
• Planes:
o U.S. – 4.45 million Americans expected to fly. With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday.
o Florida – 210,456 Floridians are forecast to fly; 4.3% more than last year.
• Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:
o U.S. – Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.
o Florida – 52,629 Florida air passengers are an increase of 1-percent from last year.

AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.45.

Before hitting the holiday road, AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.

If you are planning on traveling by air, a recent AAA study revealed that flying the Monday before the Thanksgiving travel rush is the best option. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday and is a lighter travel day than later in the week.

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