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Thanksgiving travel requires planning ahead

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Kristin Randy of Bend, Ore., flew with her family to Salt Lake City on Sunday to snowboard and explore Utah during the Thanksgiving holiday. She and her husband, Robert, are celebrating their 10-year anniversary with their children, seven-year-old Rex and nine-year-old Riley.

“We decided we’d just get away this year,” Randy said. “We were going to be here for eight days … so we thought we’d leave the weekend school got out.”

Kristin Randy said she has experienced the “nightmare” of holiday travel before but wasn’t worried about it this time because they were traveling before the rush.

The Randys are ahead of the estimated 43.4 million Americans who will travel more than 50 miles away from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to this year's forecast by AAA. Americans will travel an average of 601 miles between Wednesday and Sunday.

About 90 percent of these travelers will be driving and find gas prices lower than $3 per gallon in most states. AAA predicts this holiday’s travelers will enjoy the cheapest gas prices for the holiday since 2010. reports a national average of $3.26 per gallon and $3.12 per gallon in Utah. The price of gas is expected to continue falling over the next few weeks.

Travel plans are going to be really nice. We have high pressure coming in, which means sunshine, calm winds and warmer temperatures, so northern Utah will be in the 50s, southern Utah down by St. George will be in the 60s. No rain, snow, really anything.

–Dan Guthrie, KSL meteorologist

While the day of Thanksgiving promises to be fairly quiet weather-wise, weather could be a factor for the 38.9 million motorists on the road before and after the holiday.

Storm systems in the Southwest and the Four Corners area should clear out by Monday morning. They’ll head over to the Southeast, which will get a lot of rain, but clear out by Wednesday afternoon, according to KSL meteorologist Dan Guthrie.

Showers will then head up to the Northeast Wednesday, and threaten to cause travel disruption on Thursday for those headed from Utah to the East Coast. But Thanksgiving and Black Friday should have clear weather for eating and shopping around most of the United States, especially in Utah. Guthrie said Utah will have good weather for the holiday.

“Travel plans are going to be really nice,” Guthrie said. “We have high pressure coming in, which means sunshine, calm winds and warmer temperatures, so northern Utah will be in the 50s, southern Utah down by St. George will be in the 60s. No rain, snow, really anything.”

The weather could be a concern for the 3.14 million fliers who might be traveling earlier in the week to the Southeast. But no matter where they go, they will find busy airports, especially on Wednesday, when 37 percent of travelers head out on the busiest day for Thanksgiving holiday travel.

Salt Lake City International Airport won’t be among the busiest airports, but the airports for Utahns’ destinations could be.

The top 5 busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel will be Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare International, Boston Logan International, San Francisco International and New York LaGuardia, according to Orbitz, which ranked airport traffic.

Air travelers can do a few things to make sure their airport experience runs smoothly.

  • Arrive early.
  • Wear shoes you can take off easily in the security line (only for passengers older than 12).
  • Bring things to keep you busy during delays caused by weather or traffic.
  • Keep ID, boarding passes, electronic chargers and medications handy in your one carry-on bag or personal item (purse, backpack, etc.).
  • Don’t forget about liquids. According to the Salt Lake City International Airport website, “Passengers are allowed to carry one quart size, clear plastic bag with containers of three ounces each of liquids and gels through the checkpoints.”


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Madeleine Brown


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