Holiday travel by rail or road: Experts say book early, bring your patience

MILWAUKEE -- The week leading up to and after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel week of the year -- and it doesn't matter your mode of travel. Planes, trains or automobiles -- you will run into congestion just about everywhere.

Milwaukee Intermodal Station

Traffic started picking up on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 21 at Milwaukee's Intermodal Station, with Amtrak riders heading to Chicago and beyond. Time and room were running out for those who hadn't yet purchased a Sunday ticket on Amtrak's Hiawatha line to and from Chicago.

"You might want to think about traveling on Thursday, Friday or Saturday -- because Sunday is going to be pretty busy," said Marc Magliari.

Amtrak Hiawatha line

2017 was a record year for Amtrak's Hiawatha line -- and  Magliari said he's confident Amtrak is on another record-setting pace in 2018.

Amtrak Hiawatha line

AAA estimated more than 57 million people would travel by car between Wednesday and Sunday. Mike Pyritz with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) said one million drivers would be on state roads during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"For Sunday, the numbers are going to be way above normal," Pyritz said. "I don't know if those are historic numbers, but they are pretty close."

The good news in all of this -- the Zoo Interchange project is complete. So what should you watch out for as a driver? Other drivers who may be new to the area.

"It's moving at freeway speed, which means your reaction time is slower. There's less time for you to do that -- so when you see the signs overhead, read them. Believe them. We're not kidding," Pyritz said.

Links to important information for holiday travelers