Record number of people expected to take road trips for Fourth of July weekend, AAA predicts

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Near-record gas prices won't stop many of Americans from hitting the road this Fourth of July, as AAA estimates a record 42 million people will be taking road trips for the holiday weekend.

The estimation comes as part of the automobile and travel planning group's annual predictions of Fourth of July travel. AAA defines holiday travel as at least 50 miles away from home.

The increase in auto travel comes as gas prices have slowly dipped since reaching a record $5.01 a gallon on June 14, not adjusted for inflation. The average price is $4.96 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to AAA.

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"The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,"  AAA Travel senior vice president Paula Twidal said in a statement. "Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation."

The Fourth of July weekend, which is from June 30 to July 4, is expected to be the busiest weekend for road trips in recorded history.
The Fourth of July weekend, which is from June 30 to July 4, is expected to be the busiest weekend for road trips in recorded history.

Including air travel, AAA predicts there will be 47.9 million people traveling for the weekend. It is a 3.7% increase from 2021 and brings travel records closer to pre-pandemic levels.

It's estimated there will be 3.55 million people traveling by air for the weekend, and 2.42 million people will travel by bus, train or cruise.

Although it is slightly more than the 3.5 million people that flew in 2021, AAA says the reason more travelers are choosing cars over planes is because of the recent surge of delays and cancellations at airports across the country.

Over 10,000 flights were canceled or delayed this past weekend in the U.S. in the busiest air travel period of 2022, and experts predict airline issues will continue throughout the summer thanks to the increased number of travelers and staffing shortages. The average lprice for a plane ticket is around $201, AAA says, a 14% increase from last year.

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"The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancellation. They are your best advocate," Twidal said.

AAA said the most popular U.S. destinations for the Fourth of July weekend this year are:

  1. Orlando, Florida

  2. Seattle

  3. New York

  4. Anaheim, California

  5. Anchorage, Alaska

  6. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

  7. Las Vegas

  8. Honolulu

  9. Denver

  10. Chicago

AAA advises people book their travel plans sooner than later, as it's unlikely to find last-minute deals.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fourth of July traffic: AAA expects record number of road trips