Travel for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend is expected to break pre-pandemic records but may also bring some headaches for those heading out, experts in the industry say.
AAA estimates almost 50 million people will travel over the upcoming holiday weekend, with some 43.6 million expected to be on the nation’s highways, 3.5 million people in the air and 620,000 taking a cruise, AAA reported June 21.
The estimate is around 13 million higher than traveled during the COVID-19 pandemic last summer, the organization said.
''Road trips provide a sense of freedom and more control over the duration of your trip,'' said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA — The Auto Club Group.
''Even more expensive gas prices are unlikely to deter Americans from that road trip many have waited more than a year for. If anything, motorists are more likely to cut back on other expenses like lodging and dining out, to offset the higher cost of fuel.''
The organization reports that gas prices are the highest they have been in seven years, with the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.09, compared with $3.04 just a week ago and $2.17 last year.
"Gas prices have shot up this year, as global fuel demand recovers from the pandemic faster than supplies,'' Jenkins said. ''Even still, Americans are eager to travel, and higher gas prices are unlikely to deter them from taking a trip."
Higher gas prices and heavy traffic are not the only headaches travelers will face as the nation, cooped up during the pandemic, eagerly returns to a sense of normality due to vaccinations against the virus.
Travelers will also face rental car, hotel and airline staff shortages.
Airline travel has risen by double digits each month this year except January, with the passenger count for March up 41% from the month before, and an estimated 1.8 million people traveling in June, up 200,000 from May.
AAA advises airline passengers to pack necessities and patience when they embark on their respective journeys.
''We are witnessing a resurgence in air travel, and the industry is working to keep pace with the soaring demand,'' said Debbie Haas, AAA vice president of travel. ''Airlines are restoring staff and adding routes, both of which were reduced during the pandemic. Travelers should monitor their flight status for any changes leading up to their trip, with airline apps being an easy way to stay informed.
''You should also arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight, to ensure you to get to your gate on time. AAA Travel Advisors can help you plan your vacation in a way that reduces stress by choosing itineraries that include airport transfers, reduced flight connections and even travel insurance that offers compensation for flight delays.''
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