Thanksgiving Travel: What You Need to Know Before You Leave

PHOTO: Holiday travelers line up for one of the TSA security checkpoints at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington in this, Nov. 6, 2013, file photo.PlayPaul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Thanksgiving Travel Traffic Tips

The discussion has become almost cliche, but every year travelers complain of the gridlock that is Thanksgiving travel.

Stand-still traffic, train delays and long lines at airport security are the tried-and-true excuses for a late arrival at grandma's, so here are a few tips for getting there safely before the turkey gets cold.

Get to the Airport 2 Hours Before Your Flight

The Transportation Security Administration is expecting more passengers at airport checkpoints than ever before, but Administrator Peter Neffenger told ABC News' David Kerley the agency is prepared to keep you safe and moving on time.

Airlines for America, the industry trade organization for some of the the largest domestic airlines, projects that 27.3 million passengers will travel around the world on U.S. airlines between Friday, Nov. 18, and Tuesday, Nov. 29. That prediction is up 2.5 percent over last year.

The trade organization expects Sunday, Nov. 27, to be the busiest day in the skies, followed by the following Monday and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day.

If you are seeking the easiest and least crowded day at the airport, Airlines for America expects Thanksgiving Day to be your best bet.

A group of janitorial employees working for a private contractor at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport announced they will strike sometime during the holiday period. The airlines say their contingency plans will prevent any disruptions to their schedule.

The group did not specify which day they would strike.

No matter how well you think you know your airport, arrive early. TSA recommends arriving two hours early for any domestic flight and even earlier for international. And don't forget, your commute to the airport will likely take longer too because millions of Americans will be joining you on the highways.

Plan Your Drive, Monitor Traffic, Leave Early and Drive Safely

Thanks to low gas prices, travel organization AAA projects 43.5 million Americans will hop in their vehicles and drive more than 50 miles to their Thanksgiving destination.

The congressionally chartered National Safety Council is urging drivers to take steps to remain save on the roadways.

The nonprofit projects more than 430 people may die and 50,000 may be seriously injured in car crashes this Thanksgiving holiday period, which it defines as from 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27.

To stay safe, NSC asks that drivers designate a sober, rested and focused driver. You can read more tips on its website.

Planning your trip and knowing alternative routes ahead of time may also help ease frustration and minimize delays.

The navigation app Waze analyzed the data it collected last year and found Thanksgiving Day had the least amount traffic, particularly in the morning.

PHOTO: Infographic showing road travel projections from Navigation app, Waze. Waze
Infographic showing road travel projections from Navigation app, Waze.

The worst day to leave would be Wednesday, which last year saw a 33 percent increase in accident alerts and 20 percent increase in traffic jam alerts. If you must leave on Thanksgiving eve, Waze suggests leaving before 10 a.m.

The best day to return would be Monday, which only shows a small increase in morning usage. But Sunday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. could be nightmarish: Traffic jam alerts increased by 240 percent during that timeframe last year, with accident alerts increasing by nearly 100 percent.

Amtrak Urges Passengers to Arrive Early and Check Train Schedules

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel period of the year for Amtrak. In response, the train service has added extra trains and seats on several routes in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast.

Amtrak is expecting more than 751,000 customers this year, so it is asking riders to arrive early and monitor train schedules via its online page. Amtrak also urges passengers to report anything suspicious or unattended bags. See something, say something.

Check Your Weather Forecast

Airports and roadways can only function as well as the weather allows, so checking the forecast and planning accordingly is imperative to a timely arrival.

Airports, airlines and aviation officials will be hard at work to make sure flights get out ahead and around any storm, but to keep passengers safe, often flights must be delayed.

For drivers, it's never wise to be driving during a storm. So prepare wisely and plan your trip accordingly. Better to be late than unsafe.