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Crowded roads, crowded airports

Traveling is part of the holiday tradition

By The Mercury

If you’re among the millions of Americans (and thousands of local residents, including K-State students) for whom this work week is a short one, good for you.

Locally, at least, you’re in for some good to spectacular November weather. Afternoon highs in the 60s don’t often bring Christmas carols to mind, but that kind of weather makes putting up those Christmas lights a much more pleasurable chore.

If you’re among the throngs who are traveling this week, we wish you a speedy (within reason) and safe trip. You’ll have plenty of company, whether you pack up the family car or wait in line at the airport, as almost 70 million Americans will enjoy Thanksgiving away from home.

About one in eight of us — more than 43 million, says AAA — will be driving at least 50 miles to our destinations this week. That’s only marginally more than took to the road last year, but it still means a lot of vehicles to share the road with. What’s more, many of them will be driven by people who are in more of a hurry than is necessary or wise.

The good news is that gas is as inexpensive as it’s been all year — about $3.20 a gallon. No, the recent decline in the price is not President Barack Obama’s way of thanking Americans for letting him keep his job; his influence over gas prices is minimal. Still, prices are almost low enough to make us forget that a few months ago some candidates were trying to make high gas prices an election issue.

Another 24 million Americans are expected to take to the air through Nov. 27, most of whom will leave in the next few days and return Sunday. If history is any guide, the airlines might go through the motions of being accommodating and counter personnel who aren’t worn out will do their best to be friendly. Nevertheless, crowded airports, packed planes and delays could provide severe tests of patience for travelers who might cling to the fantasy that getting there is half the fun. As for getting back, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for airlines, with about 2.4 million people heading for home.

Wherever you’re headed or whenever you’re going, we hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving, and we look forward to your safe return to the Flint Hills.

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