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Why Thanksgiving travel may be more challenging this year

Bigger crowds, higher prices, and fewer options could lead to unexpected delays when traveling this year for Thanksgiving.

AAA estimates 53.4 million people will take to the road and skies this Thanksgiving. If you are worried about crowds, there are other things, in addition to masses of people, for you to keep in mind, like higher prices and fewer options.

Analytics firm Air DNA  says Thanksgiving bookings surged 65 percent percent, while the week between Christmas and New Year’s has increased by 89 percent compared to this time last year.  

Car rentals will be tough to come by with prices and rental car fleets dealing with months-long shortages. It’s expected to continue through 2022. Not to mention the price of gas. Prices are at a 7-year high as well.  

When it comes to flying, prepare for delays. The deadline for TSA workers to be fully-vaccinated is Nov. 22. While the agency has made contingency plans for possible staff shortages, keep in mind you could be waiting a little longer to get through airport security. 

So what can you do?  

AAA says prepare for all scenarios that way you’re ready if your plans fall apart. AAA VP of Travel Debbie Haas says travel insurance could save you big time.

“AAA offers policies for travel insurance that will give you financial benefits should your flights get cancelled or your bags get lost, or even if your flights get delayed by as little as 3 hours," Haas said.  

If you’re renting a car, sign up for the company’s loyal program to avoid a long wait at the airport. Choose the “pay later” option, that way you can cancel if you find something cheaper.

While you can only plan so much for the unexpected, being prepared may help alleviate some of the stress that inevitably comes with holiday travel.