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July 4th Travel Forecast: What to Expect on the Road and in the Air

After a record-breaking Memorial Day travel year, July 4th travel is expected to be just as busy. So, if you’re among the 44.2 million travelers expected to travel for Independence Day, you might want to consider some of these tips.

What to Expect for July 4th Travel

Each year AAA teams with IHS Markit for an in-depth look at travel forecasts for major holidays, and this year’s July 4th travel outlook is historic. 2017 will have 1.25 million more travelers than last year (a 2.9 percent increase).

(Photo: AAA)

If you’re flying, expect to be flying with 3.44 million people (an increase of 4.6 percent). And if you’re driving, expect to be joined by 37.5 million other drivers. Additionally, 3.27 million people will take other modes of transportation, like cruises, trains, and buses for the holiday weekend.

And it’s good news for drivers: Gas prices are four cents cheaper than last year, with the national average price for a gallon at $2.28—a historic low for the summer travel season.

Airfare and car rentals are also lower than last year, by about 10 percent, with the average round-trip ticket at $186, car rental at $65, and hotel nightly rates at $185 for an AAA Three Diamond-Rated hotel.

Top Destinations for July 4th Travel

According to AAA summer travel bookings, here are the top U.S. destinations for summer 2017 travel that you may want to avoid this July 4th if crowds aren’t your thing:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Anaheim, California
  5. Anchorage, Alaska
  6. Las Vegas, Nevada

Adobe also released its list of popular July 4th travel destinations, which include: Chicago, New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Tips for July 4th Travel

If you’re traveling to one of the top July 4th travel destinations this year, make sure you plan ahead to avoid traffic and delays. The July 4th travel period is defined as Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4, so travel on off-days to avoid the highest amount of traveler congestion.

If you’re flying, follow these tips for ways to survive July 4th travel:

  • Check flights into alternate airports for fewer crowds to a major city.
  • Get TSA PreCheck.
  • Buy a pass for expedited security if you’re flying an airline, like American, that offers this perk.
  • Arrive extra early to account for longer security wait times due to longer lines.
  • Consider buying travel insurance.
  • Buy access to an airport lounge in case of delays and crowds.
  • Don’t try and plan activities close to or around your flight times.
  • Leave extra time to travel to the airport in case of traffic. Better yet, utilize public transportation (like the train or subway) to get to/from the airport.

If you’re driving, follow these tips for ways to survive July 4th travel:

  • Download time-saving traffic apps, like Waze.
  • Make sure you have a roadside assistant service, like AAA.
  • Leave early in the morning or late at night.
  • Bring your car in for a full inspection or tune up before embarking on any road trip.
  • Have a first-aid and emergency response kit handy.
  • Pack plenty of water, phone chargers, and snacks for your ride.

Good luck out there and Happy 4th of July!

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