5 things to know about traveling during the Fourth of July holiday

  • Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport was busy on Thursday with travelers making an early Fourth of July getaway.

    Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport was busy on Thursday with travelers making an early Fourth of July getaway. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport was busy on Thursday with travelers making an early Fourth of July getaway.

    Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport was busy on Thursday with travelers making an early Fourth of July getaway. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Americans are ready to hit the roads and airports this July Fourth holiday after refraining last year amid the pandemic.

    Americans are ready to hit the roads and airports this July Fourth holiday after refraining last year amid the pandemic. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 7/1/2021 5:17 PM

The number of Illinoisans hitting the roads and airports will bounce back to pre-COVID-19 levels this holiday, AAA predicts.

Statewide, July Fourth wanderlust is expected to surpass 2.68 million people, a spike from lows of 1.9 million in 2020 and within 0.3% of 2019 levels. Nationwide, 47.7 million Americans will skip town during the long weekend, a 40% jump from last year, AAA forecasts.

 

The majority of U.S. travelers, or 91% will take a great American road trip, even though gas prices are burning a hole in consumers' wallets.

"Travel is back this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue vacations they've deferred for the last year and a half," AAA vice president of travel Debbie Haas said.

Close to home, hordes are expected to pass through O'Hare and Midway international airports on Friday, the busiest day of the Independence Day stretch, the Chicago Department of Aviation reported.

"We are excited to welcome travelers back to Chicago's airports, as air travel ramps up and people are eager to visit loved ones and enjoy summer vacations," CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said in a statement.

The rebound comes with low COVID-19 case rates in Illinois and nearly 67% of American adults having received at least one vaccine dose.

Here are five things to know about getting away this July Fourth.

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• Across the U.S., the average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.12, up more than $1 from 2020. In the Chicago suburbs, it's $3.52 on average per gallon instead of $2.48 in 2020.

Head into Indiana, and it's $3.10 a gallon on average, Wisconsin stands at $2.98 and Michigan is hovering around $3.21.

• Where are the holiday traffic hot spots? Traffic analysts INRIX have pinpointed the Jane Addams (I-90) corridor between downtown Chicago and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) during the afternoon rush Friday. Overall, Friday morning is one of the best times to make an escape, and before 1 p.m. Monday is the optimum time to head home, INRIX advised.

• The CDA advises getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare. In all, more than 1 million travelers will pass through O'Hare between Thursday and Tuesday, a spike of more than 240% contrasted with 2020. Midway will host about 220,000 people in the same period, an increase of 77%. For information, go to flychicago.com.

• Air travelers should pack masks because federal law requires face coverings at O'Hare and Midway international airports and on planes.

• The arrival lanes on the lower level of O'Hare are under construction with limited access. Consider using the hourly parking lots when picking up family or friends from Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

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