Some holiday travelers to see family for the first time since pandemic began

The day before Thanksgiving is typically the biggest travel day ahead of the holiday and this year is no exception.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The day before Thanksgiving is typically the biggest travel day ahead of the holiday and this year is no exception.

AAA estimates 13-percent more people are travelling this year than last year, which means more people are going home and some seeing their families for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t able to have our full, extended family like we normally would but this year we will be having more in numbers,” UNCW student and Oxford resident Andrew Ayers said. “We have quite a few older people in our family. Without them, it doesn’t really feel like a holiday.”

For some, the pandemic never impacted their time with loved ones.

“COVID didn’t bother me because I love my mother. I don’t let anything get in the way of that,” Wilmington resident Earl Johnson said.

For those gathering for the holidays, the CDC recommends wearing a mask while you celebrate if you are not fully vaccinated. However, it says not to mask children younger than 2-years-old.

While the roads are busy as ever, not everyone is headed home. Nurse Michele Hojnacki says she’ll be working in the hospital for Thanksgiving. She won’t be travelling to see family because of work and distance but hopes others stay safe.

“I’m seeing a lot more people travelling this year than I did last year, which is nice, kinda scary,” Hojnacki said. “Hopefully, it will still be safe. I’m praying that we don’t have an outbreak of COVID afterward.”

Hojnacki reminds people that some don’t have the opportunity to come home, like her son.

“Blessings to all the military and everyone who’s serving our country. They’re sacrificing, they’re not with their families, they’re not getting turkey dinners. They’re out there sacrificing everything for us to be doing what we’re doing,” she said. “Phillip, I love you. Be safe.”

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