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Thanksgiving Travel: The Best Way To Grandma’s

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday when it comes to travel.  It seems as if everyone is headed somewhere. 

 New Jersey Turnpike at exit 7A (I-195)
New Jersey Turnpike at exit 7A (I-195) (NJ DOT)

Since it lasts four days it also means every mode of transportation is hard hit.  What can you do to avoid getting stuck?

Here are some tips to help you avoid the crush and start and end the holiday on a good note.

The first tip is to plan.  While most construction is lifted during the holiday period, there are some long-term projects that can’t be removed and you want to know where those are before you head out the door.  Most states, including New Jersey, have websites that tell you when and where the construction can be found.  The US Department of Transportation has a website that directs you to statewide information across the country.

While construction can be suspended, unfortunately, accidents are not during the holidays.  The delays caused by these unexpected incidents can be a big source of stress so once you’re on the road make sure you keep on top of current conditions.

Next, keep tuned to New Jersey 101.5 throughout the holiday.  We’ll have updates every 15 minutes.  If your travels take you beyond the range of our signal, there are other resources you can turn to.  Most states have an automated phone system called 511 you can dial for real-time information on the highways.  Just make sure you use hands-free dialing or have a passenger call if you’re on the road.

While GPS devices are wonderful for getting to your destination, I suggest keeping an old fashioned paper map in the car is still a good idea.  A map gives you a wider view that can be very useful if you have to make a detour.
The worst of the holiday traffic can usually be found during several periods.  First, starting late Wednesday afternoon and continuing into the evening it seems as if everyone is on the move.  Drivers are heading home from work and school and getting an early jump on visiting.

Thanksgiving travel dates
Thanksgiving travel dates (AAA Mid Atlantic)

The reverse happens Sunday evening as the return trek takes place.  If you can avoid driving during these periods you can avoid quite a bit of aggravation.  While it’s not fun getting up early, you can almost be certain of a delay free trip by traveling early in the morning.

Don’t forget, if you’re not planning to shop, you want to steer clear of roads around malls and other shopping areas on Friday.  Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and there’s no need to fight that traffic if you’re going to buy something.

This year’s wild card is the lingering effects of Sandy.  While most of the major through routes should be available there still are problems as you get to the shore areas.  Thanksgiving is also a major time for rail travel and the impact of the storm may mean less capacity than years past on both Amtrak and NJ Transit.  With Amtrak, reservations are strongly suggested if you plan to travel over the holiday.

If your travels include a flight, keep in mind the airports are going to be packed along with their parking lots.  Give yourself plenty of extra time to find a parking space and make your way to the terminal.  Lines will also be long going through security.  As with the roads, if you can travel at an off-peak time, such as Thanksgiving morning, you might be able to catch a last minute seat and breeze to your gate.

Have a great Thanksgiving and remember we’ll be here all weekend long with the music to keep you entertained if you are stuck and the information to keep you on the move.

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