4th Of July Travel: When’s The Best Time To Get Out Of Puget Sound

WASHINGTON — Historically high gas prices hovering around $5.50 a gallon in Washington aren’t putting the brakes on 4th of July travel, with more Americans than ever expected to take an Independence Day road trip, AAA said this month.

Of the 47.9 million Americans who plan to travel 50 miles or more during the June 30-July 4 holiday weekend, a record 42 million will travel by car, the auto club said in a news release. AAA estimates at least 1 million Washingtonians have holiday travel plans, and 82 percent will journey by car.

If you’re driving, try to avoid the southbound Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 7 in Western Washington from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. p.m. Friday, when the traffic load will be about 138 percent higher than normal, according to AAA.

In general, AAA is advising people to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoons, June 30-July 1, as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. In some metro areas, a trip across town could take double the usual amount of time.

“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 percent compared to normal,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for AAA’s data partner INRIX, said in a news release. “Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays.”

Overall, here are the worst and best times to travel during the five-day period.

Thursday, June 30

  • Worst time: 2-4 p.m.
  • Best time: Before noon; after 7 p.m.

Sunday, July 3

  • Low congestion is expected all day

Monday, July 4

  • Low congestion is expected all day

Top U.S. destinations this year are Orlando, Florida; Seattle, Washington; New York City; Anaheim, California; Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Honolulu, Hawaii; Denver, Colorado; and Chicago, Illinois.
At the same time 4th of July travel by car is picking up, air travel is declining — in part because of continued disruptions in flight schedules, AAA said.

This year, about 3.55 million people plan to travel by air. That’s a 1.5 percent increase over last year but a 9.3 percent decrease from 2019, when 3.91 million Americans flew somewhere to celebrate the 4th of July.

An estimated 2.42 million Americans plan to celebrate July 4th with cruises or travel to their destinations by train or bus. That’s a big, 168 percent jump over 2021, but nowhere near pre-pandemic 2019 levels of 3.54 million people in that travel category.

Overall, travel during the 4th of July holiday will increase 3.7 percent from 2021, bringing volumes just shy of 2019 records, AAA said.

AAA said the anticipated increase in holiday travel is part of a larger trend.

“Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off,” Paula Twidale, a senior vice president at AAA Travel, said in a news release. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much-needed vacation.”

Source: Bellevue Patch