By Jim Melwert and Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Thousands of Pennsylvanians are preparing to hit the road, railways and airways this holiday season despite high gas prices, a still sluggish economy and the lingering effects from Superstorm Sandy wreaked on parts of the state last month.
AAA Mid-Atlantic projects 1.6 million Pennsylvanians will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday weekend, between Wednesday and Sunday.
AAA spokeswoman Jana Tidwell says the vast majority of the Thanksgiving travelers from the Philadlephia area will be going by car this year.
“Car is the most convenient and for many, it’s the most affordable if you’re travelling with a big family,” she said.
Pete Campbell is going all the way from Long Island to North Carolina, but he says he doesn’t mind the traffic.
“It’s a nice getaway for me, I don’t mind driving, and it’s a nice break for me. I enjoy it. Plus, my niece has five little kids, so it’s nice to see them.”
The holiday rush has also already hit the rails, as Amtrak riders are finding out.
Amtrak spokeswoman Danelle Hunter says every rail car in their fleet is in service as they are expecting near-record ridership.
“This is the busiest travel day of the year. So expect the trains to be pretty full, but I believe there are some seats still available,” she said.
Drexel grad student Maddie Munson knows her train will be full.
“It’s sold out at this point. And it was sold out about three weeks ago,” she said. “I’m not opposed to sitting on the ground. I just want to get home!”
Maddie and 140,000 other passengers are expected to ride Amtrak Wednesday.
At Philadelphia International Airport, the pace was already starting to pick up Tuesday afternoon.
Olivia Melman was flying to Philadelphia from Chicago. She said the travel costs will set her back financially, but she didn’t hesitate, because she says family is her priority.
“I think it’s my personal style to say ‘It’s the holidays. Who cares? And deal with the consequences later,” she said. “Also, being home with my family definitely saves money.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The AssociatedPress contributed to this report.)