Travelers overcome tight budgets, weather delays, big crowds

PHILADELPHIA - Budgets may be tight, but for a lot of Americans, Thanksgiving travel is what they want to pay for with their limited resources.

Eva Daly, waiting for her sister's train to arrive in Philadelphia from Connecticut on Wednesday, said her family puts its spending priorities on holiday gatherings.

"For us, it's most important that we get together, so we cut back somewhere else if we need to," said Daly.

One man waiting at the Philadelphia airport for his wife's flight from North Carolina said their son in Boston isn't able to join them this year because of travel costs, but they hope to have the whole family together in North Carolina for Christmas.

Even those who can afford to travel may be having some trouble getting where they're going on this busy travel day.

Dense fog in the Chicago area Wednesday morning forced dozens of flights to be canceled, and hundreds of others to be delayed.

Early morning travelers at Reagan National Airport outside Washington faced long lines to get through security. At one checkpoint, at least three dozen people waited in each of four lines. The waiting time, just to get to screening, was at least 15 to 20 minutes -- and that was at 5 a.m.

Grad student Courtney Tucker, traveling to see her family in Atlanta, said she plans to drive home for Christmas and avoid the "craziness" in the airports.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicted this Thanksgiving would be be busier on the roads and in the air, making it fourth consecutive year for an increase in travel.

AAA Mid-Atlantic projected 1.6 million Pennsylvanians would be traveling 50 miles or more away from home between Wednesday and Sunday. That's a slight increase of three-tenths of one percent over last year.

The study, however, was done before Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the state last month, and the storm's aftermath could have an effect on the number of people actually traveling, said spokeswoman Jenny Robinson.

Gas prices in Pennsylvania also remain about 20 cents above the national average, according to AAA.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Police said they are stepping up enforcement efforts, including sobriety checkpoints, speed traps and other measures.

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