WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – As 43 million people plan to pack planes, trains, and automobiles during the busiest travel period of the year, proper planning is essential this Thanksgiving if you want to avoid feeling like they’re all on the same road as you. Here’s some helpful tips before you hit the road.

Triple-A says the Thanksgiving travel period this year will last from Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25, and has established a few rules of thumb to follow based on trips of 50 miles or more.

Of the 43.6 million people expected to visit friends and family in 2012, about one million of them are right in this area, so listen up.

First off, traveling on four wheels this year may be historically expensive, with gas prices hovering around $3.40 a gallon, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid tolls.

Using Tolls To Your Advantage

In fact, John Townsend of Triple-A Mid-Atlantic says that’s even more reason pay for the road you’re driving on.

He says Maryland’s ICC, Delaware’s high-speed toll plaza and even the new Express Lanes in Virginia are worth the tolls and can cut major time off your trip.

“If you take advantage of these roads that have been under construction for two or three years now,” Townsend says. “You should have smooth sailing.”

Avoiding Work Zones

You won’t have to worry about the hassle of work zones.

The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Administration have suspended all work zones through Monday morning … except for one.

Maryland State Highway spokesperson Laura Rikowski says there’s an exception on westbound Route-301 on a bridge near Queenstown.

“You should use MD-213 as a good alternate,” Rikowski says. “You would pick it up in Easton and travel along 213 to south of Centreville and that gets you by the construction.”

There’s one other thing to keep in mind in Maryland. The Maryland House rest stop is closed for renovation, probably through at least next Thanksgiving.

When To Leave D.C.

Probably the most important travel tip to keep in mind is when to get out of the area.

We all know how frustrating it can be sitting on the beltway for two hours just to get home from work. Imagine how much you’ll be pulling your hair hair out if you get jammed up in gridlock on the busiest travel day of the year.

Townsend says you should do WHATEVER you can to avoid that mega-rush.

“Ground Zero will literally be around three o’clock on Wednesday afternoon.

“Wait until about eight o’clock at night, and then make your getaway still away in the night at that time,” he adds. “Or if you are only going 150 miles or so, then either wait until around 10, if it’s a two-hour trip or just leave around 5 o’clock on Thanksgiving morning.”

It’s also important to note there is a second rush once the sun comes up on Thanksgiving morning.

There you have it. You’ve been given the best advice travel professionals can offer. Now break that wish bone Thursday and hope for the big end before your trip back.

But just in case, you better check back here before you come home.

Keep your radio tuned to ALL NEWS – 99.1 for up-to-the-minute traffic updates on the ones!


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