Road travel to exceed pre-pandemic levels this holiday weekend, AAA says

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Holiday travelers are back in full force and aren't letting high gas prices stop them.

Nationwide, this year is expected to be the second-highest 4th of July travel volume ever, second only to 2019, according to AAA.

As drivers filled up in Southwest Philadelphia, they've noticed the prices rising at the pump.

"I do notice. I drive to work every day and it's going up," said John Mansaray of Darby, Pa.

But people are planning holiday road trips nonetheless.

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We caught Yusuf Copeland and his family filling up at the gas station before heading to Palm Springs, Fl.

"That's our first number one thing when we map out when we're going on a trip is gas prices and how much it's going to cost us," said Copeland.

Jana Tidwell with AAA says with the heat wave, has come an influx of calls from stranded drivers with dead batteries and flat tires.

Officials say cars that have been sitting for a while are more susceptible.

"If you have not had your car battery checked AAA encourages your to have it checked. Check the power, check the strength behind that battery to prevent an unnecessary breakdown," said Tidwell.

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At Philadelphia International Airport, 9-year-old Noah Sample had a full itinerary for his birthday trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

"Go in the pool, go skydiving, an aquarium," he rattled off.

His mom, Ashley Carrington, was more focused on the flight to get there.

"A little anxious. But it's for his birthday, so," laughed Carrington.

Officials say air travel hasn't quite reached pre-pandemic levels, and may not fit another three to five years.

But they still expect the airport to be busy this weekend, and parking will go quickly.

"We're expecting about 340,000 passengers between the days of Thursday through Monday. And I will say the peak days for travel in PHL for the month of July are on Fridays. So if you're traveling on a Friday you should expect crowds," said Florence Brown with the City of Philadelphia Division of Aviation.

Many travelers we spoke to were feeling good about their first big trip since before the pandemic.

"Honestly I feel pretty safe in an airport considering mask restrictions are lifted everywhere else. Everybody wears one here. I almost feel more safe in an airport right now," said Marie Wadlinger from Honeybrook, Pa.

Thursday and Friday are expected to be the busiest travel days.

If you're planning on traveling then, try not to drive during rush hour and leave plenty of time if you're headed to the airport.
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