SARASOTA, FLA. - Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year and according to AAA 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, down slightly from the 44 million who traveled last year.
Suncoast area travelers will have a few extra obstacles to overcome this year.
“You do what you got to do to get to your family,” said Frank Garcia. “After all we don’t live to work, we work to live and part of having a good life is being with our family.”
Gas prices that had been declining recently shot back up. The state average price per gallon in Florida jumped 20 cents in a week and since 90 percent of travel is done on the roads, many are trying to find extra gas money.
“We were all excited when we seen it a couple of weeks ago and it dropped down to $3.11 and then a day later it was up nine cents” said Ashlee Williams. The Williams family will still load into their car and drive to Alabama to visit family.
Frank Garcia is heading to Miami to visit his family and is not too concerned about gas prices because there is power in numbers.
“There are a couple of us that are going down,” explained Garcia, adding, “we are actually kind of car pooling so we are okay with it.”
Those driving and flying this year will have to keep an eye on weather reports as a severe storm sweeps across the county.
“What we are seeing is a very potent jet stream combing with some cold air sinking down from Canada to produce wide spread showers and thunderstorms that will disrupt travel,” explained ABC 7 meteorologist John Scalzi.
Travelers at Sarasota – Bradenton Airport on Monday were hoping they were headed out ahead of any problems.
“We [were] concerned about the weather that was coming from Texas over east so hopefully we are ahead of it. We are going through Atlanta, hopefully we don’t have any delays” said Doug Mussler.
The Florida Highway Patrol will be out in force during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. State troopers will be strictly enforcing seat belt and child restraint laws as well as looking for aggressive and speeding drivers.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day is the single busiest travel day of the year followed by the Sunday after Thanksgiving.