Record number of Texans expected to travel for July 4th weekend

The 4th of July weekend is here, and post-pandemic travel is in full swing. Record numbers of Texans are projected to travel this holiday weekend.

3.3 million Texans are expected to travel by car between Thursday and Monday, according to AAA Texas. That’s a 10% increase over 2019, which was also a record year. AAA attributes the travel surge to pent-up demand during the pandemic, and to folks having increasingly positive attitudes toward travel.

"So we saw Memorial Day travel really picked up, but not to pre-pandemic levels. Well, now we've reached a point where at least here in Texas we will reach pre-pandemic levels when it comes to the Independence Day travel forecast. And not only reaching pre-pandemic levels, but we will surpass anything that we've seen on record as far as overall travel volume and automobile travel," said Daniel Armbruster, media and corporate spokesperson with AAA Texas.

This momentum is expected to continue throughout the summer, so you can expect plenty of company on the roads if you are planning on traveling throughout July and August. With the increase in volume, experts are urging folks to avoid peak travel times. If you are going to be traveling Friday, for example, the advice is to leave before noon if you can.

"You’re going to want to avoid areas like Interstate 35 especially through the main part of Austin, Travis county. Those areas are not where you're going to want to be Friday afternoon and Friday evening," said Armbruster. "Pack your patience. We've seen an increase in aggressive driving behavior. So just remember if someone does something that upsets you, keep your cool."

In Texas, gas prices are at their highest since 2018, but experts say not high enough to deter travel. As of Friday morning, the national average for regular unleaded is $3.13 a gallon. In Texas, the statewide average is $2.80, and $2.78 in the Austin-San Marcos metro area.

AAA also advises drivers to make sure your vehicle is road-ready. AAA Texas expects to come to the rescue of about 18,000 drivers in our state between Thursday and Monday.

Meanwhile, area airports are expecting near-record numbers of people to travel this weekend as well. AAA projects 338,000 Texans will travel by air between Thursday and Monday. That is nearly triple the numbers for 4th of July last year and close to pre-pandemic levels.

Officials at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport say Friday and Monday will likely be the busiest days, with between 26,000 and 27,000 passengers passing through the airport each day. Those numbers are comparable to 2019, which was the busiest year ever there.

If you’re flying this holiday weekend, or any weekend this summer, airport officials urge you to leave extra time, especially if you plan to travel during the busy morning hours.

"You need to give yourself extra time, at least two and a half hours in the morning for a flight pre-8AM," said ABIA spokesperson Bryce Dubee.

Passengers are still required to wear a mask in all airport terminals and on all planes.

Officials at ABIA say they have been working to make things smoother given the post-pandemic surge in travel, including improving flow through security during busier times. They have also reopened surface and economy parking lots, and reserved parking is back open in the garages.

"So we're really working, as we're really seeing travelers return to the skies, to improve our processing along the way as we've been moving through the recovery process," said Dubee. "We are making those adjustments and working with you, but definitely be sure to pack your patience and plan ahead when you come to the airport."

In light of the recent news of staffing shortages at airlines, which has led to canceled flights at some airports across the country, ABIA officials say they have seen some delays, but not a significant increase. In fact, airport officials say most flights have still been on time. Still, it’s always a good idea to check with your airline to make sure your flight is good to go. 


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