This story originally appeared on wtvr.com
Thanksgiving 2021 will be a holiday of firsts for many Virginia families whether they’re traveling by air or staying close to the pavement.
Approximately 1.4 million Virginians will be traveling for Thanksgiving this year. That number is 11% higher over last year, but five percent off from what AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean saw in 2019.
Gas prices are also the highest since 2014.
“Historically gas prices where we are right now have not scared people off from traveling,” Dean said. “They adjust their budgets. Maybe they don’t stop at a nice restaurant on the way. Maybe they stop at fast food and save money that way.”
Dean said 92% of Virginians will drive to their destinations this year, like Allison Goodwin and her family.
The Goodwins will soon drive up to Northern Virginia with their 5-year-old daughter and a puppy.
“I filled up two days ago and I might have to top it off, which I was not looking forward to it,” Goodwin stated.
In fact, Goodwin hasn’t seen her extended relatives since the pandemic began.
She attended a child safety seat check at the Target in Forest Hill on Monday to ensure her daughter’s ride will be properly secured. The event was organized by AAA Mid-Atlantic, Richmond Fire Department and Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA).
“I have yet to see in the almost five years I’ve been here, four years as a technician, any car seat that has come to our station or event that has been 100% right,” said. RAA Lt. Becky Jamison.
A steady stream of cars pulled up to the event to receive Jamison’s assistance with installing the seats before their holiday travel.
“You don’t want [the car seat] to move more than an inch side to side, front to back,” she told a father expecting a daughter on December 14. “You need to pull your passenger seat forward so it’s not adding any pressure to this seat like it is right now.”
But, during a pandemic of missing out, these families plan to make up for lost time.
“This will be a big family gathering and everyone is vaccinated. The 5-year-old is partially vaccinated. Great-grandpa is going to be there in his late 80s, so we are excited,” Goodwin said.
Dean recommended families leave for their holiday destinations early Wednesday morning and to leave early Sunday morning to beat the heaviest of the holiday traffic.