Heavy travel expected for Fourth

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2021

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Travel is expected to recover to near pre-pandemic levels this Fourth of July, according to a travel forecast from AAA.

More than 47.7 million Americans are expected to hit the roadways and skies, the second highest travel volume on record, only behind 2019.

According to AAA, 2.5 percent fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day 2019, an increase of 40 percent from last year when travel fell to 34.2 million.

Most travel will be by car, per AAA. The organization says more than 91 percent of holiday travel will be by car this year, which equates to 43.6 million Americans, which is the highest on record for the holiday and 5 percent more than the record set in 2019. Another 3.5 million are expected to fly.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel, in a [ress release. “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.”

AAA says Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72% compared to last year, but 83% lower than in 2019.

Those modes of travel include travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising.

Atlanta is listed as once of the 10 best places to take a trip this Independence Day weekend, according to AAA.

The worst time to travel in Atlanta is Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, according to AAA. The organization said I-75 between Jodeco Road and Jenkinsburg Road will be the worst area for travel.

AAA research found that airline tickets have declined by 2 percent compared to last year, but the cost for hotels and car rentals have climbed.

Mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32% and 35%, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

Daily car rental rates have increased 86% compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166, according to AAA. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers. This production delay has presented a domino effect as rental car companies work to increase their inventory of new vehicles in time to meet the increased demand for domestic road travel.

AAA also said the 43.6 million Americans expected to travel by car this Independence Day can expect gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014 with the national average likely to remain above $3 per gallon.

“Higher gas prices won’t deter road trippers this summer. In fact, we’re expecting record-breaking levels of car travel this July Fourth,” said Jeanette C. McGee, AAA spokesperson.

“Though prices will remain above $3 a gallon, travelers are likely to look for more free activities or eat out less, but still take their vacations as planned.”