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AAA: Despite costly gas, millions of Floridians plan to hit the road this summer

Experts are predicting a 4% increase in Independence Day weekend travel compared to last year.

TAMPA, Fla. —

Even with a slight dip in prices at the pump, the cost of gas still remains high with Florida gas prices being 64% more expensive than last year. However, that’s not stopping the millions of Floridians who plan on taking a road trip this summer, according to AAA.  

“The volume of travelers expected over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA, wrote in a statement. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.” 

AAA predicts 2.6 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more during the Fourth of July weekend, that’s 4% more than last year’s holiday, per a news release.

It’s hypothesized that the reason behind this influx of road travel may stem from the recent issues with air travel.  

RELATED: Flight delays stack up at Tampa International Airport

The Associated Press reported that airlines are continuing to struggle with a shortage of pilots, which hampers their ability to fly all planned routes and schedules. Pilot unions at American, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines complained that the companies were too slow to replace pilots who retired or took leaves of absence toward the start of the pandemic, the AP said. 

“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” Haas added. “But not all destinations are within driving distance, which doesn’t mean you have to abandon your vacation plans. The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancelation. They are your best advocate.” 

The travel increase is not only predicted to happen in Florida but across the nation, according to AAA. Nationally, car travel is also forecast to set new records. During the holiday weekend, the auto club says nearly 50 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home.

RELATED: Biden is considering a gasoline tax holiday

Here are some AAA tips for stress-free travel:  

  • Have backup plan for your backup plan. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability may be limited, which will impact pricing. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely so it’s recommended to look for discounts, travel agents and rewards. 

  • B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip. Make sure to get full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip but especially for components like a vehicle’s battery, engine and tires. Heat drains car batteries, so summer is a time of unexpected dead batteries.  

  • If you’re flying, plan to arrive several hours early at the airport. 

  • Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.  

“Even with gas hitting record prices, travelers are still eager to hit the road this summer. We expect nationwide travel times to increase about 50% compared to normal. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst with INRIX, told AAA. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon.” 

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