KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Airports and highways around the country will soon be jam-packed as millions travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The American Automobile Association predicts 53.4 million people will travel this year, which is just 5% shy of pre-pandemic levels.
For Chilicothe, Missouri, native Samir Patel, the time off around the holiday will be spent with family, old friends and going to several sporting events.
"I'll be driving eight hours to St. Louis on Friday, spending the night, waking up, going to Columbia to watch Missouri beat Florida on Saturday," Patel said. "Then waking up and going to Arrowhead to watch the Chiefs destroy the Cowboys on Sunday."
Using the holiday to combine time with family and other fun travel experiences is a common trend local travel advisers are seeing.
Mark Comfort, co-owner of Comfort Tours and Travel, said he expects this Thanksgiving travel season to be one of the busiest he's seen in years.
"Everybody’s been away from each other, and so they want to get together, people are ready to get together, people are ready to travel," Comfort said.
Patel said even though he has a long trip to make to Chilicothe from Atlanta, he prefers to drive to avoid possible airport challenges.
"I don’t have to worry about catching a flight, am I in line in time, am I going to get through security in time," Patel said.
Patel also worries about flight delays and cancellations, the price of rental cars and long lines.
Those are all valid concerns, according to Comfort.
"The lines are going to be longer this Thanksgiving, no doubt about it, a lot longer," Comfort said.
In his more than thirty years of experience helping people plan trips, he said he's never seen a higher demand for his services.
"People are so ready to get back to doing what they want to do, doing what they miss doing," Comfort said.
With possible flight delays or cancellations, Comfort said there's never been a more important time for people to consider travel insurance.
He also recommends a minimum of three hours between connecting flights.
After a difficult year-and-a-half, Patel said he's excited to make the upcoming trip home and the busy highways will be well worth it.
"I can reduce my levels of stress and anxiety and then just focus on my family and my friends and the happiness I will have when both teams beat their respective opponents," Patel said.