With millions of Americans traveling and a forecast of inclement weather locally and nationally, holiday travelers should allow themselves plenty of time to reach their destinations.
“Leave yourself enough time no matter if you are on the road where there may be inclement weather or if you are heading to the airport,” said Nick Jarmusz, AAA community outreach and safety representative. “Check ahead to see if your flight is on time or if it has been canceled. That way you are not getting there and finding out you traveled there for nothing.”
Jarmusz said there will be many inexperienced travelers going through airport security who only fly around the holidays.
“They aren’t as familiar with the procedures so it can take longer,” Jarmusz said.
AAA is predicting 43.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
That marks a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year.
In Indiana, AAA estimated 997,000 total travelers this year, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2012, with 896,000 traveling by auto and 72,000 traveling by air.
AAA estimates the total number of Illinois travelers will be 2.3 million, with 2.1 million traveling by auto and 167,000 traveling by air.
Among those surveyed by AAA, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip Wednesday (37 percent) and return Sunday (33 percent).
Pat Webb, CEO of CruiseStar.com/GalaxSea Cruises and Tours, an online company based in California with many local clients, also urges travelers to allow extra time for travel and arrive at the airport early. Webb said booking as far as possible in advance is the best way to save on holiday travel.
“Airlines also tend to charge premium rates for holiday periods,” Webb said. “Last-minute deals don't exist for most markets.”
Webb said the holidays are a popular time for families to book cruises for quality time together.
“We book a lot of families for holiday travel,” Webb said. “We have several groups sailing that include grandparents, parents and the kids. Cruises in particular offer families a great way to travel together. No one has to cook, clean or entertain the group.”
For the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza the holidays are slow, said Deann Patena, director of sales and marketing.
“It is not a busy time,” Patena said. “We are offering a discounted room rate to families who want to visit loved ones in the hospital or in an assisted-living facility."
Patena said the past three years the hotel was filled because of a large Chinese Christian Ministry convention, which is not taking place there this year.
AAA indicated gasoline prices are the lowest since 2010, with Illinois averaging $3.27 for an unleaded gallon of gas and in Indiana $3.20. Gas prices Tuesday were $3.245 in Northwest Indiana, which is 23 cents lower than this time last year.