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Record 1.8 million Coloradans expected to travel over holidays, jamming roads and airports

December 22, 2017 Updated: December 23, 2017 at 9:23 am
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More than 1.8 million people will travel between Saturday and Jan. 1. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Nearly a third of Coloradoans are expected to celebrate the holidays away from home this year, breaking statewide travel records and jamming up roads and airports, AAA Colorado says.

More than 1.8 million people will travel between Saturday and Jan. 1, about 1.7 million of them by car, the organization predicted. Many of the holiday travelers will also use other forms of transportation, said AAA, which estimated about 640,000 will travel by plane, along with 66,000 by train, bus or cruise ship.

About 5.6 million people live in Colorado, according to a July 2017 estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Trip times could triple for those traveling by car, a AAA press release says.

"2017 has blown nearly every single travel record out of the water," AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said in the release. "Travel has increased year over year for every major holiday weekend - Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving - and the same is going to be doubly true for the year-end holiday period. A strong economy, growing consumer confidence, and cheaper hotel and airfare rates are together propelling holiday travel to new heights."

Nationally and in Colorado, 2017 is expected to mark the ninth consecutive year of increasing year-end holiday travel, the release says. The number of year-end travelers in the U.S. has increased by 21.6 million - or more than 25 percent - since 2005.

Weather won't impact travel in the Colorado Springs area, where skies will be mostly sunny this weekend, the National Weather Service in Pueblo reported.

Temperatures are expected to reach 47 degrees Saturday, 32 degrees Sunday and 48 degrees Monday.

But a winter weather advisory is in place Saturday in parts of north-central Colorado, including Aspen, Vail and Steamboat Springs, and a winter storm warning is in place farther north to the Wyoming border, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction reported.

AAA encourages drivers to check their cars before traveling this winter, including the battery and charging system, battery cables and terminals, tire pressure, tire type and tread, coolant levels, wiper blades, washer fluid, drive belts, engine hoses and lights.

Drivers also should assemble an emergency kit, including drinking water; a first-aid kit; non-perishable snacks for humans and animals; a bag of abrasive material - salt, sand or cat litter - or traction mats; a snow shovel; a blanket or sleeping bag; warm clothing; snow boots; a flashlight with extra batteries; window washer solvent with antifreeze components; an ice scraper with a brush; a cloth or roll of paper towels; jumper cables; warning devices, including flares or reflective triangles; and a basic toolkit, including screwdrivers, pliers and an adjustable wrench. Drivers also are encouraged to carry a cellphone with a car charger.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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