Thanksgiving Travel: What You Need to Know Before You Leave

Security officials are expecting record numbers at airports.

— -- 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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.