Holiday travelers hit the road before Christmas

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SALT LAKE CITY — Tires, check. Gas, check.

Many drivers hit the road early hoping to make it home before the holidays and before an expected winter storm hits. With just one day until Christmas, timing is everything. Drivers and shoppers are rushing to beat the clock.

John Hannon is on his way to spending the holidays with his loved ones.

(I am) going to see family in Denver," he said. "My mom and sister and sister's family all live there."

After a quick pit stop in Salt Lake City, he's half-way home. A snag in the weather slowed him down in the Sierras, but now it's smooth sailing.

"60 miles of chains at about 30 miles an hour," he said. "It was really coming down there, but since then it's been good."

On the day before Christmas Eve, the travel rush is well underway. Serviceman Joel Sweeney passed through Utah on his way to Sacramento, Calif., and he had just 10 hours left to go Sunday afternoon.

"(I'm) just getting back from Afghanistan," he said. "Been back two weeks and coming home for the holidays to see my family."

Fair weather and gas prices just below $3 per gallon have helped to make those long car rides a bit easier to bear. But before some travelers can pack up and go, they still have items to cross off on their "to do" lists.

"We're doing some last minute shopping because we're great procrastinators," said John Cornish. "So just trying to get that finished up so we can go to Las Vegas."

Drivers also hoped to enjoy a white Christmas at home instead of on the roads.

"I think this same storm I drove through is going to come here," Hannon said. "So, trying to beat that.

If the roadways seem busier this year, they are. AAA reports holiday travel is up one and a half percent from last year.


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