July 4 Travel Outlook: Road Trips, Roadside Rescues, Rising Gas Prices


Travel expected to increase 40% compared to last July 4, reaching the second highest travel volume on record. More than 9 in 10 travelers will take to the roads.

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WICHITA, Kan. – June 29, 2021 – Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, the vast majority of travel – 91% – this Independence Day holiday weekend will be by car.
“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day holiday weekend, with the Great American Road Trip the preferred mode of travel.”
Traveler Projections
  • More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways, skies and other modes of travel this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.
  • This will be the second highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019.
  • This year’s nationwide traveler projection represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.
  • An expected 43.6 million Americans (91%) will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019.
INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, along with the return trip on Monday mid-day.
AAA’s advice is to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon, along with Monday mid-day.
Emergency Roadside Rescues
  • Over the holiday weekend, AAA expects to rescue more than 1,500 stranded motorists in Kansas and more than 460,000 nationwide.
Before hitting the road, AAA reminds motorists to plan their route in advance and ensure their vehicle is road ready, to help avoid a breakdown along the way.
“Dead batteries, flat tires, and other engine problems requiring a tow will be among leading reasons AAA members will call us for assistance,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. Although we are always available to help, we hate to see people spending part of their vacation stranded along the roadside. So in an effort to ensure cars are road-ready, travelers are advised to have their vehicles inspected by trusted repair shops, including AAA Approved Auto Repair centers.”
In the case of a breakdown or vehicle problems, AAA makes it easy to request assistance—by phone or text (1-800-AAA-HELP), app or online—and members can track the service technician’s progress en route to their vehicle.
Motorists should always travel with a cell phone with charger and pack an emergency kit that includes plenty of water and snacks for all travelers in the vehicle, including pets.
Pain at the Pump
The 43.6 million Americans expected to travel by car this Independence Day can expect gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014.
  • At $3.09 to start off the holiday week, the national gas price average is at its highest of the year and not stopping. That average is expected to increase, possibly as much as another nickel, in the lead up to the Independence Day holiday weekend.
  • In Kansas, the average gas price as of Monday, June 28 is $2.87, up 4 cents in the past week, but still 11th cheapest in the nation.
  • For Kansans driving relatively close to home, the good news is that several nearby states rank even better in cheapest prices in the country: Texas (3rd cheapest), Arkansas (4), Oklahoma (6) and Missouri (7).
There are things motorists can do to increase fuel efficiency and save money when they fill up:
  • Tune up your vehicle and replace air filters
  • Properly inflate tires
  • Remove excess weight from your vehicle
  • Stick to the speed limit and avoid jackrabbit starts
  • Only purchase premium gasoline if required by your vehicle specifications. Otherwise stick to more affordable regular unleaded fuel.
  • Download the AAA mobile app, which helps locate the nearest gas stations, and lists gas prices, along your route
  • AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Save 30 cents per gallon on your first fill-up at Shell when you join between July 1 and August 31, 2021. Join now at AAA.com/Shell.
Planning and Safety Resources
As Americans begin their Great American Road Trips this summer, AAA is here and ready to help. We’ve compiled our favorite trip-planning resources, backed by more than 100 years of road-tested experience and expertise. AAA.com/RoadTrip is a free resource to help travelers find inspiration, explore destinations, plan the perfect route and get their vehicle road trip ready.
When planning a trip, refer to the new AAA Digital TourBook guides, now available for destinations across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean at TourBook.AAA.com. Available on smartphone, tablet or desktop, the new interactive guides feature detailed destination information, must-see attractions, sample itineraries and more.
To meet the needs of today’s travelers, AAA is enhancing its Diamond inspections. Hotels that meet AAA’s standards for cleanliness, condition and new surface cleanliness testing will now be recognized as ‘Inspected Clean’ and then assigned a Diamond designation. AAA inspectors will start conducting testing to identify Inspected Clean properties later this month. In the meantime, travelers can look for AAA’s Best of Housekeeping badge for peace of mind. Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests.
Although the CDC advises that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, it’s important to keep in mind that some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place. Travelers can refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com for the latest information to help plan their trip.
Regardless of how you plan to get to your destination, AAA advises travelers to seek the advice of a knowledgeable travel agent to help plan their trips this Independence Day. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.
About AAA
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than three hundred fifty thousand members in Kansas. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com..
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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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