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More than 47 million people will travel for the July 4 holiday weekend, including a record number of road trippers despite high gas prices.
In total, 47.9 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes from June 30 to July 4, according to AAA, a 3.7% increase from the same time period last year. Of those, 42 million are expected to travel by car — or a 1.1% increase from 2019 — even as gas prices continue to average more than $4.80 nationwide and more than $6 in California.
"The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear," Paula Twidale, the senior vice president of AAA Travel, 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."
When it comes to road trips, AAA said travelers may choose a car over a plane due to a recent rash in cancellations and delays as airlines continue to be plagued by air traffic control problems and staffing shortages. Driving will make up 88% of all July 4 trips while air travel will only account for 7% of trips, the lowest since 2011.
"Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying," Twidale said.
For those who are flying, Twidale said travelers should "consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancelation. They are your best advocate."
Last minute deals aren't really a thing this Fourth of July (the lowest average airfare is still 14% more than last year and mid-range hotel rates have increased about 23%), so AAA recommends travelers keep their eyes peeled for discounts through rewards programs.
Travelers who plan to hit the road can save time (and gas money) by traveling on off-peak times or days. The afternoons of Thursday, June 30, and Friday, July 1, will likely be the busiest times for drivers with travel times predicted to double on some roads. Sunday and Monday will be the calmest days, but for travelers who do need to leave on Friday, AAA recommends they leave before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.