Dec. 26 expected to be worst day for holiday travel, AAA says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After the holidays comes the traveling.

More Americans than ever recorded are reported to be traveling this holiday season from Saturday, Dec. 21 through Wednesday, Jan., 1, according to AAA.

With an estimated 115.6 million travelers expected through the weekend, travelers should expect delays on the roads and at airports.

According to AAA, more than 104 million of those holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and traffic is expected to be the worst Thursday, Dec 26, with afternoon delays are projected to nearly double in traffic in bigger cities.

Peak driving times in Chicago are expected be between 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., AAA said.

"It's too many people," said Mercedes Banks. "The roads are crazy if you're driving. The airport is nuts, you can't get through security whether you have precheck or not. It's bananas. So (travel) only if you really love your family. If not, FaceTime."

"With unemployment being low and disposable income good, that's putting extra money in people's pockets so they can use that money to travel whether by plane or to get in the car," said Molly Hart, AAA spokesman.

"Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays," said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel.

Airports should be busy as well; AAA said close to 7 million Americans will fly this holiday season, the most since 2003.

"We've been tracking all this for 20 years and this is one of the record high holiday weeks of travel," Hart said.

Drivers are encouraged to get a head start on the roads and plan ahead for delays.

"The early bird gets the worm. I know that for a fact because I got up this morning at like 4:30 to drive from the Washington-Peoria-Bloomington area," said Brandon Boler.

And the unseasonably warm weather was a pleasant surprise for many on their way home.

"My worry was driving up from Florida and hitting snow and hitting ice and it being scary and nasty," Michael Kanik said. "Happy that it's nice and warm. I'm actually getting a little warm right now."
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