Holiday travel underway: What Houstonians need to know before they depart

Whether you’re traveling the skies or roads, here are a few helpful tips for making it to your destination safely, and with fewer headaches.

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HOUSTON – Millions of Houstonians are expected to travel this holiday season, as travel rebounds in the air and on the ground.

According to a spokesperson for Houston Airports, both Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airports are expected to serve approximately 3.16 million departing and arriving passengers combined between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3.

Both Houston-area airports served approximately 1.9 million passengers during Thanksgiving travel period last month, according to a spokesperson for Houston Airports.

Nationally, approximately 109 million people will travel 50 miles or more whether by plane, car, or other forms of transportation between Dec. 23 and Jan 2, AAA said in a news release earlier this month. That’s a 34% increase with 27.7 million more people traveling compared to 2020.

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What to expect when you arrive at either Bush or Hobby airports:

The busiest travel days are expected to be Dec. 23. for Christmas and Dec. 29-30 for New Year’s.

Airport officials urge passengers to plan accordingly and arrive early.

Before you fly:

Passengers can monitor Transportation Security Administration checkpoint wait times before arriving, including Immigration and Customs processing. You can check for both airports here.

Pack your patience. Both airports are expected to be busier than ever with more people traveling than last year, according to Houston Airports.

When packing, make sure you observe the “3-1-1″ rule if you’re packing liquids. For a full list of what you can and cannot bring in flight, click here.

When you arrive at the airport:

ARRIVE EARLY. Airport officials encourage departing passengers to arrive up to 3 hours before their scheduled flight.

Parking your car at the airport? Take advantage of parking at the terminals or at the EcoPark lot (making a reservation can save you cash here). You can also park at several other lots such as

Most hotels around airports will also allow you to leave your car at the parking lot while you are away at an extra charge.

Don’t forget your mask. Both Bush and Hobby Airports are still under a federal mask mandate. Airport officials are more than welcome to provide you one if you forgot yours at home.

With COVID-19 cases rising, expect travel requirements to pop up, including vaccine mandates. Check this map to see which U.S. states have mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and/or testing requirements upon arrival.

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If you’re flying in or out of Bush Intercontinental Airport, heads up:

Passengers are urged to plan ahead, as construction and demolition of Terminal D/E is underway.

Passengers are also encouraged to give themselves extra time coming to the airport whether you’re picking up arriving passengers or dropping off departing passengers. Drivers should expect roadway delays during peak times of the day due to construction in the area.

What to expect when you drive:

Gas prices are on the rise as more people hit the road. Drivers who are looking for the cheapest price can download GasBuddy on their phone to compare gas prices throughout the area.

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Are you traveling for Christmas or New Year’s? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.