Tips to surviving Thanksgiving travel

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Travel is expected to be busier than normal for Thanksgiving next week. (Flickr)

Travel is expected to be busier than normal for Thanksgiving next week. (Flickr)

Whether it be by plane, train, car or a bus, travel during the Thanksgiving season can be busy, congested and no fun at all. That’s why Southside Daily compiled a list of travel tips to make getting where you need to go a little bit easier.

Planes

Here are some things to keep in mind before takeoff. Call or double-check with an airline to confirm ticket counter hours and check-in times a few days before departure.

Norfolk International Airport’s website recommends arriving to an airport two hours prior for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight. This ensures time for the security screening process.

The US Department of Transportation issued an emergency order banning Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones for air transportation Oct. 15. That means travelers can’t bring it in a pocket, check-in luggage or in a carry-on. Those who attempt evade the ban and are found will be denied boarding and could be criminally prosecuted, according to the US DOT website.

Turkeys, pies, breads and cakes are allowed on planes, according to the Transportation Security Administration. But containers with more than 3.4 ounces of gravy, cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads, jams, maple syrup, jelly, oils, vinegar, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer are prohibited.

Expect to pack toy weapons away in check-in luggage as they won’t be permitted in carry-on bags. Large electronic devices like gaming consoles or laptops will need to be placed in separate bins for security screening.

Steve Sterling, deputy executive director at Norfolk added to check if luggage is empty before packing, and to review the TSA’s list of prohibited items before arriving.

Roads

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s travel-trends map is designed to help drivers plan their trips. It predicts route congestion and determines the ideal times and dates to drive. The map predictions are divided into half hours between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day, according to a VDOT news release.

VDOT traffic data shows heavy congestion could occur mid-morning through the evening Wednesday and Sunday, and mid-morning through the evening Tuesday going to and from northern Virginia, according to the news release.

Drivers can call 511, download VDOT’s smartphone app or visit its website for real-time traffic updates. To report a road problem, call VDOT’s customer service center at 800-367-7623.

Most major highway construction will be suspended throughout the state, lifting lane closures from noon Wednesday until Monday, Nov. 28, according to the news release. I-64, I-264 and I-564 HOV diamond lane restrictions will be lifted on Thanksgiving day, too.

Trains

Amtrack and the Virginia Department of Rail and Transportation are preparing to accomodate more passengers than normal riding the Northeast Regional train from Norfolk during what they’re calling the busiest travel week of the year, according to Kimberly Woods, an Amtrack media relations representative.

People in Virginia Beach traveling by train can take the Amtrak bus service at 1912 Arctic Avenue to the Norfolk train station. Click here to see its schedule.

Passengers can bring two bags to check in and two carry-on bags as long as they are collectively under 150 pounds. Cats and dogs can travel with their owners for $25 if they weigh under 20 pounds, according to Woods. Train riders can also reserve a space for their bikes, depending on the route they take.

Woods also encourages travelers to not leave luggage unattended, to check holiday train schedules, arrive early prior to departure and to carry an ID card at all times.

Bus

Greyhound expects a record breaking year of travel with 540,000 passengers, according to a press release.

“We expect the highest demand to be Nov. 23 – 27, and we’ve been getting ready across our network to support the increased customer volume,” said Bill Blankenship, Greyhound Lines Inc. chief operating officer said in a press release. “Customers know we eliminate the stress of holiday travel with our hassle-free end-to- end travel experience all while enjoying our modern on-board amenities such as free Wi-Fi, power outlets, leather seats and extra legroom.”

Lanesha Gipson, Greyhound senior communication specialist, said to arrive an hour early for a luggage check, print tickets from home to avoid lines and to bring snacks. Additionally, riders can take advantage of student, military and special companion fares.

Passengers are prohibited from bringing weapons, sharp objects that can be used as weapons, alcohol, firearms and illegal substances.

Contact Justin at justinbelichis@southsidedaily.com

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