TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – As the end of the year approaches, many are planning to travel.
December 27 in particular is expected to be the busiest travel day. That’s when many people heading home from Christmas travel and outbound for the New Year. However, travel experts predict the last week and a half of the year will see steady traffic on the roads and in the air.
“Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are probably going to be slower than normal,” said Gene Cossey, Tri-Cities Airport, Executive Director. “But the days leading up to Christmas and even the days after Christmas up to New Year, you’re going to find it really busy across the entire system.”
No matter when and how people travel, they won’t be alone.
“We are expecting more travelers than last year,” Megan Cooper, AAA Spokesperson. “We’re not quite back to pre-pandemic levels, but we’re getting close.”
According to AAA, more than 2.6 million Tennesseans are expected to travel between December 23 and January 2.
While one may not need a full two hours before their flight at the Tri-Cities Airport, Cossey does recommend arriving an hour to an hour and a half before takeoff.
“A lot of people this time of year are bringing presents, they’re bringing in bigger suitcases filled with all this stuff they’re taking to family,” said Cossey. “You’re here a little earlier, you’re less likely to be waiting in line. You get here 45 minutes before your flight you will be waiting in line.”
AAA reports 90% of Tennessee travelers to plan to drive. Cooper suggests hitting the road at certain times to avoid the heaviest traffic.
“Leaving earlier in the day or late at night is going to get you a little bit lighter traffic,” said Cooper. “If you have pretty flexible plans, traveling on the holidays themselves might save you a little bit of time.”
Before leaving, Cooper said to check vehicles days in advance in case there are any needed repairs and reminded people to stay alert on the roads.
“You may or may not get into some of that winter weather,” said Cooper. “So make sure that you are driving safely. Make sure that you’re putting those distractions away… If you’re taking a longer road trip, be sure to stop every two hours or every 100 miles. “
AAA also suggests having a safety kit in your car that includes extra warm clothing, snacks, ice scrapers, a basic toolkit, first aid kit, and flares to make you visible on the side of the road if you break down.