If you plan on traveling for the July Fourth holiday, you will be joined by millions of other travelers on the roads.
The driving association AAA predicts a record number of Americans will be traveling more than 50 miles from home to celebrate Independence Day. The automobile club anticipates 609,000 people in South Carolina will travel for the holiday — most of them driving.
“It’s record-breaking,” AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright said. “It’s the most travelers we’ve seen for Independence Day since we’ve been doing our forecasts, which goes back 20 years.”
And where are most of those drivers going in South Carolina? The beach.
“It’s a given that they’re going to beaches all throughout the Carolinas,” Wright said. “But we’ve seen bookings that are going to be headed to Orlando — everybody wants to see Mickey — Tennessee, New York City and Atlanta.”
AAA tracks travel destinations based on bookings through its travel agency and requests for maps and TripTiks.
“We’ve got confident consumers out there,” she said. “And they’ve got additional disposable income so they’re looking to use that extra money to spend on travel this holiday. So we expected that it was going to be a busy holiday travel season and this is just a reflection of that.”
The group predicts the worst time to be on the road will be noon July 3.
“We suspect that Tuesday is going to be the busiest day for travel so you can expect delays on the road,” Wright said. “Tuesday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road.”
AAA says travel times could take twice as long in some major U.S. metropolitan areas on Tuesday afternoon. Wright suggested drivers avoid peak hours, consider alternative routes, be patient or download the AAA mobile app, which includes map directions, traffic updates, discounts, hotel booking, and gas prices.
And this year, consumers are paying 58 cents more for a gallon of gas than they were a year ago. Gas prices have consistently been declining since Memorial Day. South Carolina’s $2.50 average is the cheapest average in the country and is down 3 cents on the week and 15 cents on the month.
“We’re fortunate in the travel industry it’s not slowing anybody down,” Wright said. “It’s still keeping the travel business thriving despite the higher gas prices.”
Wright reminds people to begin their vacation mentality when they get into the car.
“Packing your patience behind the wheel,” she said. “Being calm behind the wheel. Not being aggressive, driving aggressive. Because what we’re constantly seeing more and more, it’s as the summer temperatures rise, so do tempers. We’re seeing a lot of road rage. Put your mobile devices down and drive.”