No matter how you plan to get around for Thanksgiving this week, some advice is universal: give yourself extra time, slow down, be kind.
When to leave? It’s a tough call in the age of smartphones and travel apps that seem to rob a seasoned traveler of their advantage.
But according to state data, the worst day to travel may be Wednesday.
The Washington State Department of Transportation charts Thanksgiving travel volumes and offers the information to help guide planning.
For southbound I-5 between Tacoma and Olympia, drivers can likely expect congestion or stop-and-go traffic from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Fewer hours of heavy traffic are expected Thanksgiving Day (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Heading back northbound Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you’ll likely want to get through Tacoma by 10 a.m. to beat the worst traffic. Or wait until evening to travel — you should cruise along by 9 p.m.
Toll rates on the Highway 520 bridge will be set at weekend rates Thursday. On I-405, anyone can use the express toll lanes on the holiday, as well as Saturdays and Sundays.
Visitors who may want to use the toll lanes on a regular weekday can open short-term Good To Go accounts, or you can add them to your own.
Those heading to the Apple Cup on Saturday should prepare for possible winter weather and check mountain pass conditions.
Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest of the year for the Washington State Ferries. Arrive early, allow extra time and expect heavy traffic starting Wednesday.
Some ferries will have fewer sailings because of the holiday. Check specific route schedules at www.wsdot.com/ferries. Locally, Mukilteo-Clinton will have four fewer sailings in the morning than the typical weekday.
More than 950,700 travelers are expected to pass through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this week. The heaviest travel days are anticipated to be Tuesday (131,400), Wednesday (140,200) and Sunday (145,800).
When it comes to getting to or away from the airport itself, the airport encourages travelers to consider Link light rail for the last stretch in order to avoid traffic jams at pick-up and drop-off sites.
Tricks also include dropping off your relatives at the arrivals level, and picking them up at the departures level.
How early to arrive? The advice these days is at least two hours prior to departure for domestic flights, three hours if you’re flying internationally.
Best times: www.wsdot.wa.gov/congestion
Pass conditions: www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes