Your Fourth of July travel forecast: Expect cheaper gas, record delays

AAA releases holiday predictions

More Americans than ever before, nearly 49 million, are traveling for a red, white, and blue getaway this Fourth of July. According to AAA, travel volume is expected to rise more than 4% over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations to celebrate America’s birthday.

41.4 million of those travelers will be going by car. Wednesday, July 3 is projected to be the worst day on the roads. INRIX , a global mobility analytics company, predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute that day.

Locally, the worst travel times will be in and around Chicago, peaking on Friday, July 5 from 1-3 p.m.

In Wisconsin specifically, travel is up 4.5% this Fourth of July, with 936,000 people predicted to hit the roads, and nearly 46,000 expected to fly to their destinations.

Lower gas prices are contributing to record travel. With today’s national average of $2.61, gas prices are 23 cents lower than last summer. AAA does not expect the increased gas tax in Illinois, set to take effect on July 1, to have an impact on holiday travel volumes.

” Gas prices are, on average, 20 cents cheaper than Memorial Day weekend, ” said Nick Jarmusz with AAA. ” More so, summer gas prices are poised to continue dropping even lower in the coming weeks. ”

Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this year, which are trending higher. According to AAA, airfares are on average 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily.

So where are travelers going? Based on advance AAA Travel bookings, the top 5 most popular destinations are Orlando, Honolulu, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Anaheim. Chicago is the only Midwest location on the list, at number 10.

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