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How to navigate ‘record’ holiday travel season in, out of Las Vegas

With the holiday season in full swing, knowing how and when to get around is key to a merry travel experience.

Whether you’re traveling by road or the air, planning ahead is key so you’re not left feeling like a child who discovered a lump of coal in their stockings.

“We anticipate heavy traffic during the holiday season, especially along the Interstate 15 and resort corridors,” said Tony Illia, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation. “As such, we urge motorists to budget additional time when making travel plans.”

The Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority estimates there will be 260,000 visitors for the nights of Dec. 23-24, with estimated direct economic impact of $187.4 million. For New Year’s Eve, LVCVA expects 333,000 visitors, a 1.5 percent increase over 2018 due to additional room inventory, with a direct economic impact of $240.2 million.

Nationally, a record 115.6 million people are expected to travel between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1, according to AAA Nevada, which named Las Vegas the No. 5 destination for holiday travelers. That is the most since AAA began tracking travelers in 2000 and represents a 3.9 percent increase over last year.

AAA estimates that more than 104 million holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, with global transportation analytics company INRIX expecting delays to be the worst on Dec. 26.

“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 Sergio Avila, spokesman for AAA Nevada.

AAA Nevada is expecting 7,620 calls for service throughout the state, with flat tires and battery issues being the top reason for a call. AAA Nevada recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair shop to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.

With the holidays being a stressful time for some,

AAA offers these tips to help avoid road rage:

Do not offend: Don’t cause another driver to change their speed or direction.

Be tolerant and forgiving: Don’t take a driver’s actions personally.

Do not respond: If another motorist becomes confrontational, avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and call 911 if needed.

Flying tips

Nearly 7 million Americans were expected to fly to their holiday destinations, the most since 2003, AAA reported.

AAA’s analysis of its flight booking data revealed most travelers depart two to four days prior to the Christmas holiday, marking Dec. 21-23 as the busiest days.

Dec. 22 is slated to be the busiest air travel day of the holiday week. Christmas Eve is the best day to travel, with the lowest average price per ticket ($527) and the smallest crowds of the holiday week.

Travelers opting to fly after Christmas leading up to New Year’s will pay a premium to do so, as flights on Dec. 26 had the highest average ticket price of the week at $692.

McCarran International Airport offers the following tips:

Wait to wrap gifts: Wrapped gifts are not prohibited, but if an item sets off an alarm, security officers may have to unwrap the item to inspect it. Officials recommend using gift bags or waiting to wrap a gift until at your destination.

Be prepared for travel impacts: Families should be prepared and pack extra essential items such as diapers, formula or anything else that may become necessary during a flight delay.

Arrive early: Plan to arrive at McCarran at least 90 minutes before your scheduled departure time, and allow even more time if you plan to park in an economy lot.

Know before you go: Each airline is different, so be aware of fees that may be assessed for carry-on or checked baggage.

Prepare for the checkpoint: Travelers are asked to familiarize themselves with the latest security checkpoint policies and procedures by checking the Transportation Security Administration’s website at tsa.gov.

Those traveling with pets may visit McCarran’s website for pet relief locations.

Parking tips

Certain McCarran parking facilities will reach capacity, such as the Terminal 1 Long Term Garage and the Terminal 3 Economy Lot. When this occurs, customers will be redirected to available parking facilities.

Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 parking garages: Both garages offer long-term parking at a rate of up to $16 per day. Valet parking is up to $23 per day.

Economy parking: McCarran offers terminal specific economy parking at a rate of $10 per day.

The Terminal 1 economy lot is off of Kitty Hawk Way, just south of Tropicana Avenue and west of Paradise Road. Shuttles run continuously between the economy lot and Terminal 1. Drivers using this lot should add at least 30 additional minutes for travel to or from the airport. This shuttle does not deliver passengers to Terminal 3.

The Terminal 3 economy lot is in the surface lot just east of the Terminal 3 parking garage, within walking distance of the Level 1 pedestrian bridge leading into the terminal. When approaching the Terminal 3 parking garage, drivers can follow the posted directional signs to economy parking to take advantage of the lower rate.

Courtesy shuttle service: McCarran offers a courtesy shuttle to transport travelers between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. This service is on Level Zero of both terminals and runs at regular intervals.

Picking up travelers at McCarran: Las Vegas residents picking up friends or family at McCarran can use the cellphone lot off Kitty Hawk Way. The lot is open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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