🔴 It's going to be a very busy Fourth of July travel period, AAA predicts

⚪ AAA said more than two million New Jersey residents plan to travel

🔵 Most are expected to take a road trip, AAA said

It’s time to prepare for the Independence Day holiday week, and it will be a busy one, according to AAA.

Almost 71 million people plan to travel 50 miles or more over the Fourth of July holiday period, including 2.1 million New Jerseyans, said Tracy Noble, public and government affairs manager for AAA Club Alliance.

That’s a 5% increase compared to last year nationally, and 8% higher than the pre-pandemic high of 2019, according to AAA.

“We are breaking national records and this is the highest number in New Jersey as well,” Noble said.

For the first time, AAA is looking at the entire July Fourth week, plus the Saturday before and the Sunday after the holiday because the holiday falls midweek and people are extending their travel time, Noble said.

traffic jam at rush hour (chris-mueller)

By Car

Road trips still rule the roost, Noble said.

In New Jersey, AAA predicts 1.6 million residents are expected to drive to their destination. That’s 77% of people traveling by car, up 4.5% from last year, Noble said. Nationally, 60.6 million people are predicted to travel by car, according to AAA.

Gas prices are not slowing down road travelers either. In fact, gas prices are on the decline.

This week, alone, there has been a two to three-cent drop per gallon. Compared to a year ago, gas prices in New Jersey are about 11 cents cheaper.

gas pump
dkhoriaty ThinkStock

That’s because the price of crude oil has stabilized. Crude oil is below the $80 per barrel mark, which helps keep gas prices stabilized. However, do not count out a very active hurricane season that is expected this year. Anything that could disrupt supply or demand could have an impact on gas prices, Noble said.

“Gas prices are coming down despite the fact that people are on the move more,” Noble said.

The best and worst times to hit the road on the days leading up to July Fourth are between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and on the holiday itself from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Noble added. The worst traffic delays are expected on July 3, as travelers leave town, and on July 7, as they return, Noble said.

If you can leave before noon or after 7 p.m., you should be in good shape traffic-wise, Noble advised.

FILE - In this July 18, 2018, file photo, United Airlines commercial jets sit at a gate at Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
FILE - In this July 18, 2018, file photo, United Airlines commercial jets sit at a gate at Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

By Air

Expect a large increase in air travel over the Fourth of July holiday week, as well, with the number of air travelers expecting to set a new record.

AAA is projecting an 8.3% increase in air travel in the Garden State with about 182,000 New Jerseyans predicted to fly to their destinations. According to AAA, it's the highest number on record.

AAA recommends arriving two hours before your flight, reserving parking ahead of time, and traveling with carry-on bags, rather than checked luggage to save time and money.

A New Jersey Transit train leaves the Bound Brook Station
A New Jersey Transit train leaves the Bound Brook station (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Other Travel Modes

Other modes of transportation like buses, cruise ships, and trains are up 8.7% this year. “We’ve got about 7% of people who are traveling using those modes of transportation. This equates to about 145,000 New Jerseyans either going on a bus, cruise, train, or multi-modal,” Noble said.

angry driver

Pack Your Patience

With more than two million New Jersey residents traveling over the seven-day Fourth of July holiday, and with most of them expected to drive, Noble can’t stress her signature phrase enough – “Pack your patience.”

Everyone wants to get to and from their holiday destinations safely, she said.

Her advice to motorists is to drive with zero distractions, have a designated driver, and if you see emergency workers or disabled vehicles on the side of the road, slow down and move over so crews can do their job.

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