By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Despite pleas from experts to stay home for Thanksgiving, fewer than 50 million Americans are expected to take the risk and travel anyway, most by car.

Mass Pike rest areas wee full of out-of-state parents scooping up college students. “Because of the pandemic, we don’t want to send him on the bus this year,” said Scott Perlowin, who came in from New Jersey. “I’m picking up my daughter in Boston, we’re going back to Westchester,” said Sue Shultis.

“Stay home. That’s the safest choice,” said AAA spokesperson Mary Maguire. She says the agency expected pandemic holiday travel to be the lowest it’s been since the 2008 recession.

Traffic is a breeze, and gas prices are below $2.00 a gallon, but Maguire says the travel forecast has been hard to nail down. “I think a lot of people are still making up their minds about whether or not to travel Thanksgiving, especially because 95% of those who plan to travel, are driving or plan to drive, and so they’re capable of making a last-minute decision,” she said.

“We waited up until the last minute,” said Mark Nash, who pulled in from New York to meet family in Massachusetts. “The pressure I was feeling was for my new grandson and my wife and the other family members.” He did get tested, but the signs posted at rest stops ask travelers to go a step further, and quarantine for 14 days.

For those who are taking to the roads, experts advise checking travel restrictions in the states they’re headed to, and limit stops by fueling up beforehand and stocking vehicles with food and drink. Sunday is expected to be the busiest traffic day, when people return from their holiday gatherings.

Christina Hager