How to brace for holiday travel as storms approach

Almost 1M people will be traveling during the Christmas holiday.

Almost 1M people will be traveling during the Christmas holiday.  (AP)

Two separate storms are set to impact travel this week, a week when almost 100 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home, according to AAA.  

The National Weather Service is warning of potential flash floods along the coast of Washington, Oregon and northern California while the Northeast Corridor will see plenty of rain and high winds.  

The foul weather is expected to snarl holiday travel. Will you be ready?

How Will Airline Travel be Affected?

Expect airlines to be canceling flights. How do you make sure you don't get stuck? If you’ve done what I’ve suggested in the past, and booked the first flight of the day, you have a far higher chance of getting on your way on time. Those who chose to fly later in the day will be paying for that extra sleep should the weather play out as expected. 

Avoid the Domino Effect

If you’re scheduled on a later flight keep your eye on the airline’s website and see if they are waiving change fees and letting you move your flight up.  If they do, jump on it and avoid what I call the domino effect.  That’s what happens when an airplane heading to Los Angeles doesn’t get out of New York or Atlanta on time.  It arrives far later, forcing the cancellation of additional flights down the line, generating that ripple or domino effect.  When big storms hit, it can take up to 72 hours to work through the backlog and it affects people all over the country, even if their weather is perfect.

The Travel Grinch Will Foil Christmas Eve

Weather experts are predicting issues up and down the east coast as rain, wind and snow will affect travel from Florida to Maine.  Throw in some low clouds and fog at major hubs like Atlanta Hartsfield and Charlotte and some might think the Grinch truly will steal their Christmas Eve travel plans.  That’s the day when most people will be traveling and when most of the winter storms will be wreaking havoc on those plans. 

Driving Might be Your Best Bet

The roads will be busy, but Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, and many are taking the entire week off.  That should give those hitting the roads fewer commuters to contend with and make for a better overall experience vs. Thanksgiving week.  Get on the road by Tuesday for the best conditions, and the lightest possible traffic conditions.

Teachers Are Going to Love This One

Take your kids out of school a day or two early.  Let’s face it; depending on their age and their school, these next two days are going to amount to little or no work getting done.  That’s right.  I said it.  And I’m going to do exactly that when I head to the airport on Tuesday and fly off to Mexico with my wife and two teenagers.  We’ll be joining several other family members for the next 10 nights, giving us plenty of time to catch the kids up on any lessons they may miss. 

Do your best to take precautions and stay safe this Holiday Season.  And for all of you celebrating, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. 

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Mark Murphy is a noted travel expert, author and founder of  You can follow him on Twitter at @murphytravels.