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Holiday Travel Season Quickly Approaching

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The time is quickly approaching when the roads, railways, and airports will be flooded with travelers looking to head out to their holiday destinations. And with many college campuses in the area already finishing up their respective terms, one of the busiest travel seasons will soon begin to reach its peak; a season that sees many of the most relaxed individuals’ stress levels reach that of a college student cramming for a final they need to pass in order to achieve satisfactory marks in their course.

Added to the stress that bases itself in shopping and coordinating multiple parties and family gatherings, traveling during the holiday season can sometimes put the icing on the proverbial stress cake.

And, just like any other holiday season in recent memory, this one is sure to feature a heavy dose of travelers looking to scramble at the last minute to reach their particular destinations.

Eric Jones, Public Affairs Manager at the City of Eugene, advised motorists and pedestrians to be extra careful on the roads with the expected increase in traffic in Eugene and the surrounding area. Particularly focusing on the safety of the bicyclists, of which there are many in Eugene, Jones gave the advice to pay attention wherever you are driving this holiday season, especially when it comes to driving the downtown streets.

Travelers need to be prepared for the increased traffic the holiday season will bring to Eugene.

Jones also stated that it would be wise to check the weather forecast so you can understand the conditions outside that will affect the road. From extremely wet days to cold days where there may be ice on the ground, there are a plethora of dangerous conditions that will begin to present themselves in the next few weeks. These conditions become even more dangerous when you factor in the many people who will be holiday shopping and exiting/entering the Eugene area.

Motorists are also advised to frequently check the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) website for any information regarding traveling along the I-5 corridor. ODOT runs a specific website known as TripCheck, a place dedicated to providing Oregonians with the most accurate road and travel conditions. For those who may encounter slick or snowy road conditions, it is always advised that you carry chains in your vehicle at all times. While studded tires are allowed in Oregon from November 1st to March 31st, chains are preferred as they do not do as much damage to the road and give the vehicle better handling in adverse conditions.

For a complete list of winter driving tips from the ODOT, make sure to visit their winter driving tips web page.

Allegiant Air is one of the many airlines that fly out of Eugene (EUG).

Another place that is preparing for an increased load in travelers over the coming weeks is the Eugene Airport (Mahlon Sweet Field). With flights now operating from Eugene to Honolulu and Palm Springs in addition to previous destinations, the fifth-largest airport in the Northwest may see its busiest season in recent memory.

Cathryn Stephens, Deputy Airport Director at Eugene Airport, had some tips for passengers looking to make their flights a little smoother.

“We always advise people departing on the early morning bank of flights, between 5:15am and 6:10am, to arrive at the airport a minimum of 90-minutes ahead of their flight and two hours ahead on peak travel days.”

For those of us who won’t be waking up so early, Stephens also mentioned some general tips to make going to the airport a less stressful experience.

“My best tip is for passengers to be sure they give themselves plenty of time to arrive at the airport, get checked in at the airline ticket counter, and get through security screening,” explained Stephens. “If they can print their boarding pass at home that makes the process go even faster. With a boarding pass and only carry-on luggage, you can go straight to security screening…passengers should be sure they know what they can and cannot take through the security screening checkpoint.”

Individuals with checked bags are required to be at their airline ticket counter at least 40-minutes before their scheduled departure time and should be prepared to pay any baggage fees that may be collected at check-in. 

While all flights may not have been fully booked yet, it is always advisable to book your trip ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling for tickets when you need to travel.

“The week of Christmas and week of New Years are always busy in the terminal building,” said Stephens on the busiest time of the holiday season. “Also, the bowl games that OSU and UO will be playing in will be busy travel days as well.”

The Amtrak Cascades train is one of the most popular modes of transportation for Northwest travelers. Photo courtesy of Bruce Fingerhood

With Oregon State’s Alamo Bowl on December 29th and Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl on January 3rd, the Eugene Airport will expect to see increased amounts of travelers heading into and out of the airport around the same time. These games will add to the heavy traffic the airport was already expecting.

A final method of transportation that will see increased business over the course of the holiday season will be the Eugene Amtrak Station. Connecting people all along the west coast, Amtrak can expect to see a heavy amount of travelers who would rather enjoy a relaxing train ride over what can be stressful driving times. And though traveling on Amtrak may be the least stressful of all the options, it is always recommended to book your tickets far in advance over the holiday season while checking back on your travel date for important updates regarding weather conditions and expected travel time.

The holiday season is fast-approaching and will bring with it the added stress of traveling to-and-from your destinations. Whether it be by car, airplane, or train, there are important safety and travel tips that you should follow to make everybody’s holiday season a safe one.

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