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Best travel times for the Thanksgiving holiday

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SEATTLE — Are you hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday? Experts say it could take nearly twice the normal amount of time to reach your destination this year. So when should you plan your trip?

Historically, Wednesday has had the busiest travel times on the road and at the airport. But if you leave at the right time you can avoid a major hassle.

Traffic, it’ll take the fun out of any vacation road trip. And this year in the Seattle area, heavy traffic could add hours to your drive time, depending on when you leave the house.

“We’re expecting it to take about double the amount of time it normally would on a holiday weekend,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at traffic intelligence company INRIX.

The biggest travel day lands on Wednesday. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, the busiest times for I-90 eastbound are between 1 and 5 p.m.

“If you can leave on Thursday that might be better, leave early, leave late at night to avoid those peak travel times,” said Daniels.

For people heading south out of Seattle, I-5 should be a mess for most of the day Wednesday.

"Definitely, I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma is going to be the biggest chunk of congestion there, though,” said Nicole Daniels WSDOT spokesperson.

Traffic is expected to be stop-and-go on that stretch of I-5 until about 9 p.m. So traveling early in the morning or late Wednesday night is your best bet.

Travel time to the airport on Wednesday is expected to take 20 extra minutes with more than 134,000 people flying for the holiday. SEATAC says dropping off passengers at the arrival gate might be faster than going through the departure lanes.

And no matter what road you take to Thanksgiving dinner check road conditions and plan ahead for emergencies.

“Our travel times page, our social media, Twitter counts are very big. Definitely check that, we’ll have the latest information on there.”