(CNN) — Americans feel the heat at the gas pump, but that won’t stop them in the park, AAA predicts.
The automotive and travel planning group’s annual forecast for the July 4 holiday weekend says 42 million Americans — more than ever — will take a road trip of 50 miles or more.
That is despite the fact that gas prices hit a record earlier this month. The national average per gallon on Monday was $4.98, just a few cents above the high of $5.02 reached a week earlier.
A combination of holidaymakers and commuters could double Thursday and Friday evening travel times to normal length at peak points, Inrix traffic experts said.
It warned that some of the most congested routes will include freeways around Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle.
The best time to travel from Thursday to Friday is early or late in the day, Inrix predicted. It said congestion should be lower on Sunday and Monday. July 4 falls on Monday this year.
Gas Saving Tips
Heavy traffic causes slow driving in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 16, 2022. This year, this will likely be a site familiar to many 4th of July drivers.
Kris Craig/The Providence Journal/USA Today Network
People determined to hit the road still have ways to at least alleviate the sting of gas prices. A few strategies include:
• Diversion stations near major highways: “It’s usually best not to use the highway stations,” Ellen Edmonds, manager of AAA public relations, advised in a recent interview with CNN Travel. Instead, “drive a few miles on the road. Look for residential areas or remote rural areas.”
• Get stingy at expensive gas stations: If you’re running out of gas and you’re stuck in an area with high prices, be sure to stop to refuel. Just don’t fill up at all. Pump enough gas to safely get to a location where stations generally charge less.
• Consider a “proximity”: There are options between settling for one more staycation and an epic, cross-country ski trip that would blow your budget. It is the ‘proximity’. Think of places closer to home yet far enough away to feel like a real trip.
In the air
A Delta Boeing 737-932ER takes off from JFK International Airport. AAA says only about 7% of people traveling for the July 4 holiday will fly.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/File
While roads will be crowded, fewer Americans will fly for the holidays, AAA expects.
It said the 3.55 million people expected to take to the skies on Independence Day are just 7% of travelers. That is the lowest share since 2011, when the economy was still recovering from the Great Recession.
AAA says airline tickets are about 14% more expensive than in 2021.
The fare-watchers at Hopper say prices paid this month have fallen about $20 from the May average, but attribute that to travelers buying cheaper fall flights. The rate for an average hotel room is 23% higher than last year, according to AAA.
Overall, AAA said the demand for travel is “not declining” despite the higher costs.
“People need a break and even though things cost more, they’re finding ways to take that much-needed vacation,” says Paula Twidale of AAA Travel.
Flight cancellation advice
CNN Travel asked Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot and spokesperson for FlightAware, what travelers can do to brace themselves for cancellations and delays this summer.
She offered these tips based on a conversation she had with an employee of a major US airline on Monday:
• Holiday kissing: Do not travel on the day of an important event. Plan to arrive at least a day early.
• Apps are your friend: If your flight is cancelled, you can reschedule your trip in the airline’s app. You can probably rebook faster and have access to seats that are likely to fill up while you waited on the phone.
• Use a carry-on bag for essentials: Put everything you need in your hand luggage within one or two days. Don’t check prescription drugs or other essentials.
• Take into account: Don’t take your frustration out on customer service representatives. They don’t make the operational decisions.
Top image: A motorist refuels in Houston. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP)
CNN’s Forrest Brown and Marnie Hunter contributed to this article.