Hitting the road for 4th of July weekend? AAA shares best, worst times for holiday travel

BOSTON — Be prepared to sit in significant traffic if you plan to hit the road for the Fourth of July weekend, unless you plan ahead, according to the American Automobile Association.

Beginning Thursday, 89 percent of the region’s 2.7 million holiday travelers are expected to pack local interstates, AAA Northeast estimates. Another 179,000 New Englanders plan to fly.

The afternoons of Thursday and Friday are expected to be peak traffic times and days for drivers in major metro areas across the region. Motorists should expect heavy traffic between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on both days, according to AAA.

Travelers planning on leaving Friday are being advised to leave their homes before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m. to avoid traffic jams. People beginning their travel on Saturday should avoid being on the roads between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Monday night is also expected to be a travel nightmare due to many people concluding weekend festivities to return home.

As of Wednesday, the national average for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline was $4.87.

“Even though gas prices are declining, they are still high and historically they affect holiday travel volumes,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. “The recent dip in prices is certainly welcome news for travelers, and just as we saw with Memorial Day, there continues to be a pent-up demand to travel this holiday.”

For airline travelers, July 1 will be the busiest air travel day with July 4 being the lightest.

Overall, about 48 million Americans are expected drive, fly or cruise 50 miles or more this year -- a nearly 4 percent increase over last year.

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