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When to travel to beat Thanksgiving travel rush

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DALLAS (NewsNation) — The Thanksgiving holiday rush is on this year, and people caught planes in numbers not seen in years. But a change in habits, like remote work, may spread out crowds and ease the typical holiday travel stress.

Experts say many people will start holiday trips early or return home later than normal because they will spend a few days working remotely — or at least tell the boss they’re working remotely.

“We haven’t been home in three years for Thanksgiving,” said Kaite Krough, a holiday traveler. “We’re excited, and it was worth the pain of the lines and everything we had to get here.”

The busiest travel days during Thanksgiving week are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and the Sunday after the holiday. This year, the Federal Aviation Administration expects Tuesday to be the busiest travel day with roughly 48,000 scheduled flights.

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.6 million travelers on Monday, surpassing the 2.5 million screened the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2019. The same trend occurred Sunday, marking the first year that the number of people catching planes on Thanksgiving week surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

AAA predicts that 54.6 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home in the U.S. this week, a 1.5% bump over Thanksgiving last year and only 2% less than in 2019. The auto club and insurance seller says 4.5 million will fly between Wednesday and Sunday.

TSA expects airports to be busier than last year and probably about on par with 2019. The busiest day in TSA’s history came on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019, when nearly 2.9 million people were screened at airport checkpoints.

Nearly 49 million will travel by car between Wednesday and Sunday, according to AAA.

People getting behind the wheel or boarding a plane don’t seem fazed by higher gasoline and airfare prices, or the widespread concern about inflation and the economy. That is already leading to predictions of strong travel over Christmas and New Year’s.

The National Safety Council estimates more than 500 people may die this Thanksgiving holiday in roadway crashes.

According to AAA, here are the best and worst times to travel by car this holiday:

The best time to travel on Wednesday is before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. The worst time to travel is between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

On Thanksgiving day, the best time to travel is before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m. The worst time is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the worst times to travel remain between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The best time on those days is before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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