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Costly, chaotic holiday travel weekend ahead

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Posted at 7:45 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 00:31:32-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Coloradans will be hitting the road in greater numbers than ever this July 4th, but high gas prices will make it more costly.

AAA Colorado predicts that 786,000 Coloradans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend. They'll join the ranks of 47.9 million Americans, up 4 percent over last year and just shy of numbers last seen in 2019. 

Nationwide, 42 million Americans will be traveling by car - joined by 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies and 2.42 million Americans taking advantage of other travel options. That marks a new record for automobile travel, a 1.5 percent gain over last year in air travel, and a staggering 167.9 percent growth in travel by other modes as overall travel confidence reaches its highest point since the pandemic began. 

"We're going to get up early, and I think it is about a 12 hour drive to St. Louis. We're going to do it in one shot," said Kimberley.

She just flew into Colorado Springs to help her friend move back home — but she knows it's going to be an expensive trip.

"We're a little bit worried about it because we have to get a big truck with all of their things. It is just not the time for that," said Kimberley.

Drivers will be facing the most expensive Independence Day in history. However, AAA Colorado says it is not deterring them from traveling. They expect 786,000 Coloradans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend.

"Despite high and rising prices on just about everything, we're seeing consistent increases in travel demand," said Skyler McKinley, Regional Director of Public Affairs for AAA. "It seems that with so much going in on the world, Coloradans have decided they're due a vacation - and this is the year they're finally taking it."

McKinley says there are a number of ways for travelers to save this holiday. Use the most cost efficient vehicle, slow down, and utilize buyers clubs. He expects gas to spike through Labor Day.

"We're looking at $5 per gallon an average throughout much of the Rocky Mountain West. If you're driving to California, you might expect to pay $7 per gallon," said McKinley.

Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday and Friday as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip. 

Tips to Travel Stress Free

With crowded roads and busy airports, travelers should be prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the holiday.

• Have a plan A, B and C. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability may be limited, which will impact pricing. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely so it's recommended to look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel agents are a great resource since they may know of a deal that may not be readily available to the public. 

• B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip. AAA expects to respond to over 446,000 calls for roadside assistance over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Make sure to get a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip but especially for components like a vehicle's battery, engine and tires. Heat drains car batteries, so summer tends to be the time for unexpected jump starts. AAA will bring a battery to members in need, and provide discounts on the purchase price. Even a vehicle in top shape can run into an issue so it's a good idea to pack a well-stocked emergency kit and have roadside assistance just in case.

• Avoid the rush . Travel on off-peak times or days or pick a hidden gem closer to home. Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday weekend (June 30 - July 4) with Monday, July 4 being the lightest. For those hitting the road, the Thursday and Friday before the holiday are anticipated to be peak traffic days. If you're flying, plan to arrive several hours early at the airport. 

Remember - Be Kind and PatientFor those traveling this Independence Day, it's important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. It's easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal - kicking off their summer vacation safely.  

Top U.S. Destinations:
• Orlando, FL
• Seattle, WA
• New York, NY
• Anaheim, CA
• Anchorage, AK
• Ft. Lauderdale, FL
• Las Vegas, NV
• Honolulu, HI
• Denver, CO
• Chicago, IL

Top International Destinations
• Vancouver, BC, Canada
• Paris, France
• London, England
• Rome, Italy
• Amsterdam, Netherlands
• Dublin, Ireland
• Calgary, AB, Canada
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
• Cancun, Mexico
• Nassau, Bahamas