Record-Breaking Road Travel Expected During July 4th Weekend
After more than a year of COVID-19 precautions, Ohio residents are hitting the road in record-breaking numbers for the July 4th weekend. The increased demand for hotels and fuel means people will be shelling out more money during their trips.
"Two million Ohioans will travel on the Fourth of July, and that's by modes of road, air and other modes of transportation … more than 1.9 million Ohioans will hit the road," said AAA spokesperson Jenifer Moore. "It's 1.3%, more than the previous record set in 2019. In terms of last year, the numbers are back up almost 19% over 2020."
About 73,000 people are planning to travel through other modes of transportation — planes, buses, trains, cruises — during the holiday weekend, which is at around 83% of pre-pandemic levels, according to Moore.
At the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, officials are expecting to see 80% of 2019 passenger volumes this summer.
With more people than ever hitting the roadways, Moore says people can expect costs to reflect the demand for travel-related services. Local gas prices had dropped just before the big holiday weekend, but she says that won't last.
"However, what we do anticipate is that gas prices will go up towards the end of the week and even following the holiday," Moore said.
The average cost of gas is expected to stay over $3 per gallon.
Moore says AAA plans on helping at least 4,600 Ohioans from the roadside this weekend. She recommends people pack a car kit with extra medication, water, nonperishable food, and blankets to stay comfortable while they wait for service.
The Ohio Department of Transportation says efforts have been made to reduce the size of work zones during the holiday season to ease traffic issues. ODOT is working on more than a thousand construction projects this year.
Those renting cars will see a 86% spike in prices over last year, with daily rates topping out at $166, AAA says.
NPR reports car manufactures sold off a quarter to half of their fleets during the 2020 travel lulls and are struggling to keep up with demand. A global shortage of necessary microchips exacerbates the situation.
Hotel prices are also on the rise. According to AAA, the cost of mid-range hotels increased 32-35%. The average nightly rate for AAA Two Diamond and Three Diamond hotels is $156 and $398.
Plan Ahead To Reduce Stress
Moore says with increased travelers and pricing, there are things people can do to make their travel plans less stressful.
- Anticipate traffic on the roadways and factor that into your travel time. Be sure to leave early.
- CVG says people should arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance.
- Make sure your car fluid levels are full, your headlights are clear, and everything is working before hitting the road.
- Pack books, music, and activities for children in the probable chance you have to wait in line or traffic.
Finally, remember to be patient.
"We are really stressing patience and compassion as travel returns. Fifty-one percent of folks in Ohio are planning on taking a trip this summer," says Moore. "What that means is that there will be a lot of crowds at the destination sites, the parks, the amusement parks."