“I think we’ll see this year’s passenger travel volume match 2019’s — even though airlines have less capacity than they did then,” said Adam Gordon, managing director and partner in the travel team at Boston Consulting Group. The number of passengers who made their way through airport security in June confirms this.
Here’s what travelers need to know preparing for the madness.
Flight cancellations weigh on weary travelers as July 4th approaches
To avoid traffic, it’s best to travel before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Thursday, when roads are a bit clearer, AAA spokeswoman Ellen Edmonds said.
It’s also safer to travel on Sundays and Mondays, days when many travelers are at their destinations and in the middle of their vacation plans.
“Depart at times when traffic isn’t as heavy and look for lesser-known routes,” Edmonds suggested, adding that AAA trip-planning app TripTik is a good resource for finding your way around busier areas to move.
Edmonds said if you leave between 2pm and 8pm on Thursday or between 12pm and 9pm on Friday, you’re likely to get stuck in traffic along with other 4th of July travelers. “It’s important for travelers to be prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the vacation,” she added.
The most congested highways
According to AAA data, the top 10 US travel destinations for the 4th of July weekend are Orlando, Seattle, New York, Anaheim, California, Anchorage, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Denver and Chicago.
According to analysis by INRIX, drivers traveling in major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle should expect significantly more delays. In Atlanta, for example, Interstate 85 southbound from Clairmont Road to MLK Drive is expected to be 134 percent more congested than normal, with peak traffic Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Peak traffic congestion in DC is expected to hit Thursday from 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. for drivers traveling counterclockwise on Interstate 495 from the New Hampshire Avenue exit to Interstate 267.
Avoiding Thursday and Friday afternoon travel can help travelers stay away from major city traffic. On Sunday and Monday, however, minor traffic jams are expected on the motorways in the city area.
A little break with high petrol prices
Gasoline prices have been rising for months, forcing drivers to be more conscious of the kilometers they drive in their cars. On Wednesday, the national average was $4.87 a gallon, according to the AAA, up from a record $5.02 in mid-June.
A place to find relief? Sheetz. The convenience store announced Monday it would offer a gas special available through the holiday weekend, dropping the price to $3.99 a gallon for unleaded 88 and $3.49 a gallon for E85. The Mid-Atlantic chain says it has more than 640 locations in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina.
High gas prices affect each state differently, so try to be strategic about where you fill up when taking a road trip. For example, fill up in Arizona instead of California or in Kentucky instead of Indiana.
How to save money on car trips when gas prices are rising
Regardless of when you fly, make an effort to get to the airport early.
“Mornings tend to be more reliable flight times because there’s less chance of things like summer weather disruptions on the networks,” said Gordan, the travel advisor.
According to Hopper data, flying on Saturday of the long weekend and returning on Monday 4th July is the top choice for the best prices on domestic flights. Departing on Saturday instead of Thursday can save domestic travelers $70 per ticket on top-line fares. For international travelers, Hopper suggests departing on Friday or Saturday to save an average of $160 off peak travel times.
Since June 5, 2022, more than 2 million people have passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints every day, and the numbers don’t seem to be slowing anytime soon.
Try to avoid the most common and popular flight times from 8am to 8pm. With the increased number of travelers at the airport, flight delays and cancellations are expected to bombard travelers and disrupt their plans over the weekend.
“Have an A, B, and C plan,” Edmonds said, especially if you’re flying. She added that travelers should plan for delays or cancellations and the potential additional costs of staying somewhere unexpected. To avoid possible problems, check in 24 hours before your trip and track the status of your flight through the airline’s app.
The perfectly correct guide to a canceled flight
Where bad weather is expected
Storms are not expected to hit the weekend, but there will be some weather-related obstacles for some travellers.
Moisture from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is expected to contribute to some afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the interior southwest and southeast states, according to AccuWeather. Additionally, the humidity could bring storms to part of the northern Rockies, Midwest and Northeast, but those storms are expected to be brief, the Weather Service reported. Be prepared for possible airport weather delays when flying into one of these areas.
The coronavirus is on the rise again in the United States, with the country reporting a 21 percent overall increase in new cases over the past week, according to Washington Post tracking data.
While testing requirements for international travel to the US have officially ended, health professionals should still test for coronavirus, ideally within three days of your departure date. Health experts also recommend wearing a mask if you want to protect yourself from the virus, especially in crowded indoor areas like airports.
Your guide to planning a European vacation
If you’re traveling abroad, testing positive for the coronavirus could face a handful of obstacles, as travel restrictions vary from country to country. If you test positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you shouldn’t travel for 10 days.