ORLANDO, Fla. — As the start of the holiday season this weekend launched what promises to be the beginning of a busy travel, cooking and shopping period, consumers need to be aware of inflation on prices for gifts and food, delays on packages and potentially slower movement at airports, industry experts say.

What You Need To Know

  • The holiday travel season started Friday

  • The number of people traveling this week is expected to rise 13% from 2020, AAA says

  • Lower staffing levels at airports could cause some travel issues, industry experts say

  • Prices for Christmas gifts and food also are higher, a marketing expert says

Nationwide, more than 53 million Americans are expected to be traveling this week, up 13% from last year, according to AAA forecasts.

More than 2 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday, the highest for a single day since the pandemic started, the Transportation Security Administration reported

Robin Ware is booking it back home to Atlanta.

“I’m excited. I’m going to be with my family, and to have a great Thanksgiving, and I’m beating the rush," she said.

For Garrett and Gracie Breton though, the destination is Orlando and then a cruise.

“We’re heading on a Disney cruise for Thanksgiving this time,” Grace Breton said.

Garrett said he couldn’t help but note a difference even before he got on his plane.

“Everything’s working not so well,” Garrett Breton said. “Everything’s a little slower. There seems to be less people doing security at the different vendors."

Staffing shortages are a big concern all across the board, especially at airports this week.

Ware said she got to the airport two hours before her flight because she \wanted to be prepared.

For people who haven’t made travel arrangements, industry experts have some recommendations.

Andrew Gross of AAA said it best to travel when fewer people are.

“If you can leave Wednesday before noon, that's great,” Gross said. “Or one of the best travel days, if you're only going on kind of a close-in trip, (is to) leave Thanksgiving morning."

But travel isn’t the only business sector where you might get hit with some unpleasant surprises.

“In general, inflation is much higher today than it was at this time last year,” UCF associate marketing professor Anand Krishnamoorthy said. “So prices across the board are going to be higher."

Increased costs are likely at the grocery store for Thanksgiving week, but the price surges will be evident as consumers start shopping for Christmas gifts, Krishnamoorthy said.

“The items that have suffered the most in terms of stock issues and supply-chain problems — clothing, electronic goods, home electronics, toys, sporting goods," he said.

For now though, the Bretons say they’re excited to catch up on lost time.

“I’m excited for family time," Garrett Breton said. "It’s a nice day to come down and hang out with everybody. The cell phones get put away. We really get to spend time with the people we love."

Based on the latest data from Visit Florida, Orlando International Airport has the highest passenger count of any airport this quarter at 5.3 million, up 200% from last year.​ The airport is expecting only slightly lower travel numbers than in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.