For an Easier Trip, Planning Is Everything

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Here's some getaway advice:

Leave now. Travelers have learned to spread out their departures somewhat, but the worst traffic time is still likely to be noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Returning, people have more choices, but the worst time is still Sunday afternoon.

Be patient. Especially on Interstate 95, where anyone taking a long drive during the daytime will probably encounter somebody else's rush hour. Many drivers say that traveling at off-hours saves more time than any route variation.

Don't share. When using E-ZPass, look for the "E-ZPass Only" lanes, usually on the left side of the highway, rather than the "E-ZPass Accepted" lanes.

Stay awake. Best antidote to drowsy driving: Stop driving. Coffee, rolled-down windows and a loud radio don't do it.

Plan parking: Reagan National is the toughest for holiday parking among the Washington area's airports. Check availability online at http://www.mwaa.com/reagan or call 703-417-7275. The valet parking lot is closed this month.

Watch lights. Friday's shoppers in Virginia will notice that the traffic signals near malls have been retimed for holiday traffic. (Maryland doesn't use the same system.)

-- Robert Thomson

For traffic information, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/traffic.

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