Planning to travel by plane or car for Thanksgiving week?
Remember that other people are traveling, too, and while you can’t prevent the masses from going to see their loved ones, you can do your best to avoid crowds — for both your sanity and your safety.
The week around Thanksgiving sees a lot of fatal and serious-injury crashes, typically due to speed, weather and time of travel, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Traveling over the mountain passes can be particularly precarious because driving conditions change rapidly.
“Mountain passes can change from clear, dry roads to blizzard-like conditions in minutes,” according to the Washington State Patrol. “When those conditions are less than optimal, drivers need to reduce their speed accordingly. Reducing speed and increasing following distances are the best ways to arrive at your destination safely.”
Holiday traffic is expected to be at typical levels — that is, heavy — throughout the week, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Wait times will likely be longer than usual at ferry docks and Canadian border crossings, the agency warns on its website, and delays could be especially long on Interstate 90.
If you’re headed east across Snoqualmie Pass, you may find less competition for space on I-90 if you can make the trip early Thursday morning, when traffic will be relatively light, instead of Wednesday afternoon, when you could be sitting in stop-and-go traffic from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
And if you’re coming back from Eastern Washington on I-90 on Sunday, crossing the pass before 11 a.m. could spare you a major headache, avoiding westbound backups in the afternoon.
Here are some links for drivers to check when considering when to hit the road:
- I-90 North Bend to Cle Elum
- US 2 between Stevens Pass and Skykomish
- I-5 Lacey to Tacoma
- I-5 near the U.S./Canada border
Drivers also can use WSDOT’s online tools, the WSDOT app and social media accounts to track current traffic conditions.
While Thanksgiving isn’t the busiest season at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — that occurs during summer — airport officials recommend holiday travelers pack their patience as about 1 million passengers fly during the holiday week.
Be prepared for long lines if you are traveling on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday, and the Sunday or Monday afterward.
The new Sea-Tac Airport App lets you watch security checkpoint wait times; look up your flight; find yourself on the terminal map; and search for restaurants, lounges, the meditation room or your favorite retail store. You can also use multiple other apps to help you navigate the airport.
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