NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — If travel forecasts continue to hold up, millions of Americans will be away from home sometime during next few days.

Motor club AAA projects that some 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from their homes over the nine-day Independence Day holiday travel period — surpassing pre-pandemic numbers for the U.S. holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen over 32 million individuals in airports from this Thursday through July 8, up 5.4% from last year’s numbers.

Here’s what to think through when making final preparations for your trip:

Best Time to Depart?


Avoiding the most hectic times, when others are rushing out of town, is a good way to start.

If you’re traveling by car for the Fourth of July, it’s best to hit the road in the morning, according to transportation data and insights provider INRIX. Peak traffic congestion varies by location, INRIX data published by AAA shows, but the worst times to drive on, or leading up to, the holiday are generally between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Either way, be prepared for the roads to be jammed.

“Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a prepared statement.

July Fourth falls on a Thursday this year, and many travelers will likely take Friday July 5th off to extend their trip into a four-day weekend. Drivers in large metro areas can expect the biggest delays on Wednesday July 3 and Sunday July 7 — as travelers leave and return to town, Pishue added.

If you’re renting a car ahead of July Fourth, the busiest pickup days will be Friday, Saturday and Wednesday before the holiday, AAA notes.

When will airports be busiest?


Airports have been busier than usual the past few weeks – and that’s even before this holiday week began.


“We expect this summer to be our busiest ever,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said, adding that travel typical peaks around Independence Day.

The TSA expects a surge on Friday, when it expects to screen more than 3 million passengers Friday. That would surpass the agency’s current record for most people screened on a single day, which reached just under 3 million last Sunday.

How Will Weather Impact Travel?


Look up the weather forecasts not just for your destination, but along your entire travel path.

Many places across the country are dealing with heat waves, flooding or even damage from recent severe storms that resulted in power outages. It’s possible that you may need to do some rerouting, or even repacking your luggage, with the latest weather conditions in mind.

What should I do if my flight is delayed or canceled?


If your flight is canceled, airlines are required to provide refunds for customers, even if the cancellation is due to weather.

Delays are trickier, because they typically have to meet certain criteria for relief, such as refunds or compensation — but carriers may give customers to chance to switch to alternative flights, if available.

In April, the Biden administration issued final rules that include requiring airlines to provide automatic cash refunds within a few days for canceled flights and “significant” delays. Those rules are set to take effect over the next two years, but the Department of Transportation has a site that lets consumers see the commitments each airline has made for refunds and covering other expenses when flights are canceled or significantly delayed.

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