Staying put or heading out?

LIHUE — Long distance requires a bit more time.

Alaskans and Hawaiians tend to need an early jump on traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday — and the airports in both Anchorage and Honolulu were packed Tuesday to testify to that — while plenty of people on Kauai plan to stay put for the four-day weekend.

Expensive ticket prices are one deterrent, they said, while others said they have enough family right here to make the holiday special.

“We’re stuck on this island in the middle of the Pacific,” said Erin Burt of Kapaa, on her plan for the holiday which is staying put.

She travels to the Mainland when she can afford it, but wasn’t worried about missing the November holiday on that side of the ocean this year.

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” she said. “It’s too cold.”

Bill Lemke of Lihue will remain homebound, too. But for surviving the hectic week, he’ll reward himself by blowing town later.

“I’m staying home,” he said. “I’ll be in Las Vegas next week after the Thanksgiving craziness.”

Thanksgiving travelers spent the day Tuesday catching flights in Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu to random, sometimes remote destinations. Some were cashing in on holiday deals on hotel rooms in Las Vegas.

Such as Joel Akins and his girlfriend Alex Tingat, who were at the Honolulu airport on a layover from Brisbane, Australia. They opted for a Las Vegas vacation because they found deals on accommodations during Thanksgiving, they told The Associated Press.

“We figure no one wants to go to Vegas on Thanksgiving,” said Tingat.

But that’s not quite the case.

Judi Murakami of Lawai said she’ll be in Las Vegas with her mother and aunt for the holiday.

“Just to get away from all the Thanksgiving stuff,” she said.

Other locals said they’ll travel, but not far.

Bob Klass of Poipu said he and his wife will be on Oahu so she doesn’t have to cook — a nice treat on a holiday reserved for a big meal.

“We have reservations at a hotel which has a good Thanksgiving meal, so all we do is take the elevator down, enjoy the meal, and take the elevator back to the room,” he said.

For those sticking around Kauai for the holiday, several free meals will be offered. They start today in Hanapepe and Lihue when the Salvation Army opens its doors to its dining facility starting at 10:30 a.m.

Tiana Gonsalves is one local who is staying home for the holiday. There’s not much reason to get away when everyone is right here, after all.

“Traditionally, we have a party with the family,” she said.

But more people will travel on U.S. airlines this Thanksgiving than last year.

Airlines for America predicted that 24.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between Nov. 21 and Dec. 2. That’s a 1.5 percent jump over the number of travelers who took to the air during the Thanksgiving period last year, or 31,000 more passengers on average a day.

And while Alaska and Hawaii are the states that usually require the most travel time to leave, it’s not unheard of to travel from one straight to the other.

Dennis Kline picked up his son Isaiah from the Anchorage airport after the 14-year-old flew home from the southeast Alaska town of Sitka. Kline, his wife and two children flew to Hawaii on Tuesday, where they planned to hit the golf links.

The thought of the Hawaii sunshine helped Kline get through the burden of holiday travel.

“The holiday rush in winter season seems to be a real tough time to travel,” he told the AP. “There’s a lot of sometimes delays and weather and things.”

David Welch, visiting Kauai from Utah, knows the feeling of leaving the cold for Hawaii’s beaches. Speaking in Puhi, he couldn’t think of a better place for a family reunion for the holiday.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to bring the grandchildren to Hawaii,” he said. “We love Hawaii and the grandchildren will be here with us for a week.”


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