AAA expects some 1.96 million residents to travel between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1 — an all-time record, the travel advocacy group says.
The vast majority — 1.78 million — will do so in a car. But unlike the Thanksgiving holiday, when most travel happens in just a handful of days, Christmas travel will be more spread out.
That means motorists can avoid the worst traffic by observing a few simple rules, AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said:
- First, leave early in the morning.
- Second, don't drive on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas.
"On that day, I would say budget extra time," McKinley said, adding that travel times could double that day depending on your travel plans.
If you do find yourself in a sea of red lights, McKinley advises doing your best to relax.
"Every time I'm stuck in traffic I say to myself, 'I hate traffic,' up until I remember that I am traffic," he said. "You're out on the roads, and so is everybody else."
The Colorado Department of Transportation expects traffic on I-70 west of Denver to be busy on Christmas Eve and the days following the holiday. More than 46,000 cars passed through the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel the day after Christmas in 2018, a 42 percent increase over the day before.
The agency says it will suspend lane closures in most construction zones to help alleviate congestion. It also warns that eastbound I-70 at Floyd Hill may close between 7-8:30 a.m. because of blinding sun glare, a phenomenon that plagues the roadway from November through February every year.