TAMPA, Fla. — Get ready to pack plenty of patience if you plan on hitting the road over the July 4th holiday weekend. AAA said travel over the holiday should approach pre-pandemic levels and said more than 47 million Americans will hit the roads and skies over the weekend.
Overall, AAA said this year’s July 4th travel volume will likely be the second-highest in history, behind only 2019. If AAA’s numbers come to fruition, 2021 will see a 40 percent increase in travel from 2020’s pandemic-limited travel when 34.2 million people hit the road for Independence Day.
“We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
Among the top destinations this July 4th weekend: Orlando, Anaheim, Denver, Las Vegas, and Seattle.
With air travel causing headaches for passengers, AAA said the number one mode of transportation will continue to be the road trip. AAA forecasted 91 percent of travel will be by car with a total of 43.6 million Americans driving to their destinations, a record for the July 4th weekend.
Traveling by car will cost drivers a lot more this year. Nationally, AAA said gas prices had reached $3.11 per gallon of unleaded gasoline. Florida sees a little relief with prices at $2.98 per gallon of unleaded, but there are pockets of Florida including South Florida and most areas from Tallahassee westward in the panhandle reporting unleaded gas prices topping $3 per gallon.
Overall, the gas price is at its highest point this year and showing no signs of dropping anytime soon. Between the record demand expected over the July 4th holiday, plus confidence in worldwide vaccination rollout and easing of travel restrictions have contributed to a perfect storm to send gas prices soaring. For comparison, the highest gas price on July 4th before 2021 was in 2014 when a gallon of unleaded had a national average cost of $3.66.
Some of the places with the highest gas prices are on the west coast where all states are reporting gas prices over $3 a gallon with California reporting prices over $4 a gallon. The states with the cheapest gas include Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama.
Finally, if you are hitting the road, AAA put out a list of areas likely to see heavier than usual delays over the holiday weekend. The closest nightmare spot for Florida drivers is in Atlanta on I-75 North from Jodeco Road to Jenikinsburg Road on Friday from 1-3 p.m. where traffic will be 50 percent higher than usual, AAA said.