DAYTON — Ohioans are breaking records this year as 2.2 million people in the state plan to travel for the 4th of July weekend. That is a 3.3 percent 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 1.2percent from last year. Other means of transportation―including buses, trains or cruises―increased 151.9 percent.
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,” says Jerod Turner, 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 151,226 people in the Miami Valley area to travel, an increase of 3.8 percent over last year, with about 90percent of them traveling by vehicle. Following the statewide trend, there will be about 3.4 percent fewer people flying. The largest increase―about 168 percent―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,” Turner adds. “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.”
Where are Ohioans Traveling for the 4th of July Holiday Weekend?
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: Prepare for Higher Prices
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 4th 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 Turner. “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.”
AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Drivers should also use reward or points available through grocery stores, warehouse stores and gas station reward programs to save money.
Tips for travel
If traveling by car
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.
In an effort to ensure cars are road-ready, AAA offers a free Vehicle Health Inspection” to both members and non-members at any AAA Car Care Center. This free inspection includes tire, brake, battery, exterior lights and fluid level safety checks.
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.
If traveling by other means
AAA recommends dressing in layers so you can adjust based on the temperature of the riding compartment. You can shed layers if you are too hot or add layers if you are cold. Also, bring something to entertain yourself during the long ride – audio books, movies and music are great distractions.
AAA offers the following tips for a safe and enjoyable 4th of July travel experience:
Use a travel advisor. They can help make any last-minute changes to travel plans, explore travel insurance options and plan a vacation that meets your needs and comfort-level this summer.
Travel safely. For travelers who are not vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends you practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested for COVID-19 before and after travel. While the public transportation mask mandate is no longer in effect, individual airlines may have mask requirements, so check with a AAA travel advisor or contact the airline for the latest information regarding masks. Companies like Greyhound and Amtrak are also mask optional. However, the CDC continues to recommend masks be worn on all public transportation. The New York City subway still requires all riders to wear a mask.
Don’t Drive Intexticated. Put the smartphone down or give to a passenger while driving.
Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Get a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service.
Slow Down, Move Over. Move Over! Be mindful of construction and emergency workers on the roads.
Stay aware of flight changes. Check your flight status before leaving for the airport. Consider signing up for text or mobile app alerts from your airline for the latest flight information.