Updated December 20, 2021 - 6:11 am
Before friends and family can gather and be merry this week, they’ll have to deal with the Scrooge of the season: travel.
After a down year in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people traveling for the holidays between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 is expected to surge back toward normal volume this year, reaching 92 percent of 2019 levels, according to AAA Nevada.
It’s estimated that 109 million people will travel during that stretch, with 100 million expected to drive to their destinations and 6 million expected to travel via plane.
“With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort traveling but travelers will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” Sergio Avila, AAA Nevada spokesman said in a statement.
Las Vegas is the top holiday destination based on hotel reservations, according to a report by RetailMeNot and Priceline. Sin City ranks No. 3 for top destination via flights.
The report states that 31 percent of those traveling noted it was to spend time with friends and family, with 20 percent opting to head out of town to use up their paid time off at work.
Those who are staying in Las Vegas are paying an average of $130 a night for a hotel room and $314 for flights, according to the RetailMeNot and Priceline report.
Travelers hitting the road can expect to pay more at the pump, as the national average for regular unleaded gasoline sits at $3.31 for a gallon as of Friday, according to AAA. Las Vegas’ average is well above that at $3.82 a gallon, with the statewide average even higher at $3.87 per gallon.
If your travels include Harry Reid International Airport, formerly McCarran, here are some tips from airport officials:
If traveling with gifts, consider wrapping them after arriving at your destination. Wrapped gifts are allowed, but if an item sets off an alarm, security officers may have to unwrap it to inspect it. Wrapped gifts in carry-on or checked baggage are both subject to possible search.
Travelers are still required to wear masks at the airport, on airplanes and on other modes of transportation tied to the airport, per federal mandate.
— Parking at Terminal 1 can now be paid for via mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Certain airport parking facilities, such as the Terminal 1 long-term garage and the Terminal 3 economy lot, are expected to reach capacity. Once capacity is reached, travelers will be redirected to available parking facilities.
If you’re parking in the Terminal 1 economy lot, add at least one hour to your plan to use the courtesy shuttle.
Travelers over 18 years old no longer need to show their boarding pass at security checkpoints at Harry Reid airport.
The Transportation Security Administration installed credential authentication technology units at all security checkpoints that utilize only a traveler’s photo identification.
Delays are possible, especially due to weather issues. Even if the weather is not an issue in Las Vegas, it could be in other cities that can impact the network. Travelers should prepare for potential delays by bringing snacks, childcare essentials, medication, and anything else that is of immediate importance.
No matter the mode one chooses to travel, being prepared for a trip is essential. AAA offered the following tips:
Be proactive: Book flights, car rentals, hotels and any activities planned for a trip ahead of time.
Pack your patience: With travel returning to near normal levels, travelers should prepare for the influx of people on roads and airports. For domestic flights , AAA suggests arriving at the airport two hours before departure time and three hours ahead of international flights.
Expect traffic: With 100 million people forecast to drive over the holidays, motorists should expect slowdowns and be prepared in case of breakdowns.