AAA projects record number of Fourth of July travelers

TOLEDO – Ohioans are breaking records this year as 2.2 million people in the state plan to travel for the Fourth of July weekend, according to AAA. That is a 3.3% increase over 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

A closer examination of the numbers reveal 2.08 million people are expected to drive, 70,297 will fly and 104,696 will travel by other means. While the majority of people will be taking to the roadways, the portion of travelers going by vehicle increased only by a half a percent compared to 2021. Air travel has dropped 1.2% from last year. Other means of transportation―including buses, trains or cruises―increased 151.9%.

While there is no firm data on why air travel dropped, analysts point to issues airlines are having since the end of the pandemic, which saw airlines scrambling to meet the surge in demand as both business and leisure travelers sought to take to the skies once again. Memorial Day and Juneteenth holidays saw thousands of flights cancelled or delayed across the country.

“Staffing shortages, increases in COVID-related unexpected absences and even weather are among the many factors resulting in turbulent situations for travelers opting to fly, especially during times of peak demand,” said Cindy Russeau, AAA Retail Manager. “Those taking to the skies should be prepared for flight cancellations and delays. Working with a trusted travel advisor is the best bet to reducing stress when flying.”

Locally, AAA expects 106,928 people in Northwest Ohio area to travel, an increase of 3.8% over last year. Following the statewide trend, there will be about 3.4% fewer people flying. The largest increase―about 168%―is found in other modes of transportation, which includes cruise ships as well as trains and buses.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last two years,” Russeau added. “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 Travel bookings indicate a strong travel recovery for summer. National Parks and beach areas along the East Coast from Georgia to Maine are popular destinations for the holiday, according to local AAA Travel Advisors.

Travelers can expect to find higher prices for hotels and car rentals as demand climbs. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers.

The 2.08 million Ohioans expected to travel by car this Fourth of July can expect gas prices to be some of the most expensive since 2014, although the national average has seen modest decreases after reaching a record $5.01 mid-June.

“Higher gas prices won’t deter road trippers this summer,” continued Russeau. “Though gas prices remain high, travelers are likely to cut their budgets by enjoying more free activities or dining out less, but still take their vacations as planned.”

Tips for travel

Before hitting the road, AAA reminds motorists to plan their route in advance and ensure their vehicle is ready, to help avoid a breakdown along the way. AAA expects to rescue more than 446,000 Ohioans at the roadside this Independence Day weekend.

If traveling by air, AAA recommends downloading the airline’s app and allowing push notifications for any changes to your flight. Travelers should be at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours for international flights.