By Andrea Alvarez

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Weeks after Thanksgiving travel nearly hit pre-pandemic levels, roads and airports are expected to look similar for the holidays. After having to cancel getaways and travel plans last year due to the pandemic, Americans are making up for lost time this holiday season.

The latest numbers reflect a nearly 34% increase from 2020 on travel between late December and early January.

Tampa travel enthusiasts Danielle Gillylan and April Primous keep a close watch on travel trends and activities from their Tampa Bay hub via Facebook.

“I asked the ladies in the group, ‘Hey, who’s up for a brunch and a boat ride’,” said Danielle Gillylan, founder of the Facebook group Tampa Traveling Besties.

“From that, it was just like taking trips and going.. doing events and stuff,” added her friend and group moderator, April Primous. Born from travel and activity, the Facebook page aims to get this group of women to do more things travel.

“It’s important to form sisterhood and for us to travel and see the world,” said Gillylan. Both women, originally from out of state, say traveling is high on their list of priorities.

“Most of us in the group are moms, we work and so to be able to get out and relax for a couple of days is extremely important,” said Primous. So they’ll be joining the more than 109 million Americans and almost 6 million Floridians to travel during the holidays this year between December 23rd and January 2nd – 1.5 million more than last year. According to AAA, airlines alone will see a 184% increase in travelers over last year.

Florida is expected to be one of the top holiday destinations in 2021.

Although the omicron variant has prompted new travel restrictions, locals say they have the safety routine covered.

“Back to normal. The lines are there and everything you just still have to wear your mask and make sure you’re washing your hands, sanitizing,” said Primous.

“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still need to be mindful of the pandemic,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel this year.”