About 42.5 million people are expected to drive, fly or ride trains to their Thanksgiving destinations, according to travel tracker AAA. That's the highest number since the start of the recession.Ninety percent of them will hit the road, and it won't be cheap. Drivers will pay almost 20 percent more for gas, which has reached an average of $3.42 a gallon.
Air travelers have been hit, too. The average round-trip airfare for the top 40 U.S. routes is $212, up 20 percent from last year. Rail tickets on most one-way Amtrak trips have climbed 2 to 5 percent. Hotel and motel rates are also up slightly.George Gorham and his fiance, Patricia Horner, weren't deterred. They flew across the country to visit Gorham's son at North Carolina's Fort Bragg. They used frequent-flier miles and planned to visit tourist attractions in the nation's capital along the way.
Horner said they still would have made the trip without the miles, but "it would have been more painful."
Some motorists who tried to get an early start along the Pennsylvania Turnpike found themselves stopped by — or stuck in — a gooey mess after a leaking valve on a tanker truck spread driveway sealant along nearly 40 miles of highway. Officials said at least 150 vehicles were disabled and an unknown number of others were damaged Tuesday night.
"Now we have to turn around and go back home," Laura Frick, who was traveling from Cleveland to New Jersey for the holiday, told WTAE-TV. "It's horrible."
Turnpike workers who peeled up the sticky puddles, then covered them with sand to hasten drying, had traffic moving normally again by Wednesday morning.
Travelers also were at the mercy of the weather.
Heavy rains and scattered thunderstorms prompted flood warnings and closed some roads across swaths of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York early Wednesday. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain to make for treacherous driving and thousands of power outages across parts of New England and upstate New York.
Flights arriving at Philadelphia International Airport early Wednesday were experiencing delays between 30 and 45 minutes "and increasing" due to low cloud cover, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported few other early disruptions.More...