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Thanksgiving travel guide: Busiest times for air travel from RDU, driving from Raleigh

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.
Courtesy of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

Thanksgiving travel is back, the AAA’s 2021 report says, so expect the roads and airports to be close to 2019 levels.

Here’s our quick guide to traveling from Raleigh for the long weekend:

Traveling by car from Raleigh

πŸš— The best time to drive, in general, is after 9 p.m. Wednesday, before 11 a.m. Thursday and Friday and before noon Saturday and Sunday.

πŸš— The worst time to drive is 12-8 p.m. Wednesday, 12-3 p.m. Thursday, 1-4 p.m. Friday, 2-7 p.m. Saturday and 1-7 p.m. Sunday.

πŸš— Where to avoid: If you’re passing through Atlanta, avoid I-85 South on Wednesday afternoon. It’s one of the top spots for congestion, AAA says, with 340% higher traffic from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

πŸš— Check the traffic: The NCDOT Traffic Map can help you anticipate congestion and road work (though most major road projects will suspend work Tuesday-Monday).

Traveling by air from RDU

✈️ RDU forecasts 234,000 people will travel through the airport Monday-Sunday, a more than 129% increase from 2020.

✈️ Sunday is anticipated to be the busiest day, with 44,000 people passing through RDU. In 2019, RDU set a new record number of passengers with 54,800 passengers.

✈️ The busiest days for Thanksgiving air travel in general are Tuesday and Wednesday, according to AAA.

✈️ Show up at least 2 hours in advance for domestic flights, RDU officials recommend.

✈️ Parking is limited: RDU Airport recommends booking parking at least 24 hours in advance — which is also cheaper — but if you’re not able to make a reservation, here’s some advice:

✈️ RDU parking rates are back to pre-pandemic levels, ABC11 reports.

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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