MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the time of year that travelers pack-up their bags to visit loved ones for the holidays.

Airline experts say a record 45.7 million passengers will fly between Thursday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 5. That’s 6 percent more than traveled last year.

It already looks and feels like the holidays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and travelers are already coming home for Christmas.

“It’s so nice,” Maddie Boehne, who arrived at MSP Airport Tuesday, said. “We’re done with finals so we can relax now and enjoy ourselves.”

MSP Airport officials say around 40,000 passengers will come through security each day between Dec. 20 and Dec. 30 — excepting possibly Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

”A typical day here is probably around 34,000,” MSP Airport spokesperson John Welbes said.

Welbes recommends that people get to the airport early to deal with longer lines — two hours ahead for domestic flights, three for international.

MSP Airport officials also remind travelers to not go through security with wrapped gifts, as TSA may have to open them. When it comes to drop-off and pickup of loved ones, think opposite.

“Typically if you’re picking someone up you pick them up in baggage claim level but that level tends to back up so you can also coordinate to pick them up at ticketing level,” Welbes said.

The same goes for if you are dropping someone off, as you can try leaving them at baggage claim level during peak times.

Traveling by road instead? It’s estimated there will be more than 102 million people driving for the holidays, the most since AAA started tracking holiday travel in 2001. You can thank the low gas prices for that.

A tip for future years? The slowest days for travel in the holidays are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Click here for further travel tips this holiday season.

Kate Raddatz