AAA expecting near-record Fourth of July weekend travel

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — After travel plans were postponed or canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AAA expects people to hit the roads and take to the skies in near-record numbers for this Fourth of July weekend.

AAA says travel is rebounding as numbers return to near pre-pandemic levels. News10NBC takes a look at some of these numbers and finds out what method of travel is most popular right now.

More than 47 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, according to AAA of Western and Central New York.

"In fact, this is going to be the second-highest holiday on record, second to only to 2019, and that’s all based on AAA’s research," AAA spokesperson Elizabeth Carey said.

News10NBC visited one local rest stop to hear about highway travel conditions through the Finger Lakes region.

"It’s been smooth sailing out of Maine," Erin Ridenour said as she makes her way to Ohio. "Less traffic than I thought they would be."

Richard White and his family are traveling from North Carolina to Niagara Falls.

"The traffic has been good, but we ran into some heavy traffic," White said. "There was an accident."

Gas prices in Central and Western New York are the highest they’ve been in the past seven years. AAA says 91% of travelers, or about 43.6 million Americans, are taking road trips this year for Independence Day.

"People found out last year that the good old fashion road trip is the way to go, and you know, road trips are always popular over the summer, but they became kind of nostalgic, and people kind of fell in love with them again last summer," Carey said.

Over 3 million people bought airline tickets specifically for their holiday travel, AAA Travel Expert Erin Murray said.

"TSA passenger counts are on the rise, and while they’re slightly down compared to 2019, we’ve seen consistently 2 million daily passengers passing through TSA at many U.S. airports," Murray said.

Travel experts say there are ideal times to hit the roads and times you should avoid. They suggest the worst time to travel is between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"Adjust your route accordingly, and try to travel in the morning or evening to avoid the highest congestion times," AAA’s April Engram said.

AAA says the cruise industry is still seeing some low numbers as cruise ships are just getting back to business again.