MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The holiday travel season kicks into high gear today as millions of Americans take to the roads, skies and rails to celebrate the holidays with their families and loved ones.
The 48 hours before Christmas Eve are traditionally the busiest time for travel.
AAA expects a record 107 million Americans to be on the move between December 23 and January 1, with more than 97 million on the roads, and nearly 6.5 million flying.
Those who fly will see some airport security changes, including new automated screening equipment. The goal is to speed up the screening process, and it’s already in place in a few large airports.
Passengers will also be asked to remove any devices larger than a cell phone from their carry-ons.
AAA says the best time to travel during the holiday period is early morning or after the morning commute when the roads are less crowded. Traveling on the holiday itself is also an effective strategy.
More than 2.4 million passengers are expected at Miami International Airport during the 17-day travel period from Thursday, December 21, 2017 through Friday, January 6, 2018. That about 150,000 people a day passing through MIA.
Rule number one?
“The most important thing is to get here early, get here with enough time to prepare yourself, if you’re traveling with smaller children, older relatives, you want to give yourself enough time to find your way around,“ said MIA spokesman Greg Chin.
Some travelers don’t need to be told.
“I always come two hours before, just because it’s better safe than sorry,” said Jose Palma traveling to Texas.
Amid all the hustle and bustle, there was universal excitement about being home for Christmas, at any cost.
“I had to spend a lot of money, but as long as my family is happy everything is fine and dandy,” said Ken Sullivan who was traveling to Atlanta.
Austin Phillipe was looking every bit the holiday part, wearing a Santa’s helper’s hat as he walked through the concourse.
“It’s all about the holiday spirit. You’ve got to bring happiness,” Phillippe said.
It is expected there will be long lines, flight delays, and other obstacles for travelers to deal with this weekend, but for some there are no holiday headaches.
“I’m excited. Christmas is every day for me. Every day is Christmas,” said Evelyn Jackson, traveling to Houston.
While MIA and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport have adequate parking, the garages are expected to be nearly packed. It’s recommended travelers have someone drop them off, or take a cab, Uber or Lyft to the airport.
Valet parking is available at the Dolphin Garage on the departure level outside of Concourse D or the Flamingo Garage on the departure level outside of Concourse J. Click here for more.