ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — AAA is expecting 48 million people to travel this 4th of July weekend, just 2% shy of what the nation saw in 2019. The company said it’s going to be a jam-packed Independence Day compared to the last two years.
The biggest surprise for AAA is how many people are actually traveling by car, given the high prices at the pump: 42 million people driving to their destinations this weekend.
But AAA said it’s really kind of a mix: some are taking those long-haul trips, while others are seeing what’s right here in New York closer to home.
Elizabeth Carey with AAA said the average travel length is going to be 50 miles or more from home. She said people are tired of shutdowns and staying in.
“Overall, for 4th of July weekend, what we’re seeing is people saying ‘we don’t want to pay $5.00 a gallon for gas, but no one’s going to stop us from taking this trip. We want to be with our friends, our family members. We want to make those memories.’ But it really depends on each individual budget. So at Easter time we saw a lot of people who planned on driving all the way to Florida but we’re only going to go as far as Myrtle Beach because gas prices are so high — you know we’re just going to go a little closer to home. But at the same time right now, we have a lot of people come in, saying they’re taking their RV out west to the national parks, so it’s really a mix,” said Carey.
Customers at Speedway on East Avenue in Rochester said they’re already spending over $100 to fill their tanks up and even with that, some are going to Buffalo, Albany, and Syracuse for the 4th.
Shelley Mitchell spent $130 to fill up her SUV and is heading up north this weekend.
“It’s crushing it. I mean even we’re just about to go up to the 1,000 Islands this weekend. To get there and back it’ll cost me $300 bucks just to go away for a weekend, just it’s insane,” said Mitchell.
Margy Peet also just filled up her car for $20. She said that $20 is actually outrageous for her.
“Well, I haven’t bought gas in a couple of weeks so let’s see. I only have a seven-gallon tank and I have a hybrid and I get 40 miles without having to use any gas so most of the time I don’t use much gas,” said Peet.
A new study from MRO found minimum wage workers in Rochester use 48.5% of one day’s pay to fill up their tank. Grayson Mullen makes $15.50 per hour, and he’s feeling the loss with every fill-up.
“A fourth of my paycheck goes to gas. A full tank is like $56,” said Mullen.
Another study from Quote Wizard said New Yorkers are actually using 7% less gas than last year. But expect that the change… at least this weekend.
“People are saying ‘I didn’t get to go anywhere for a couple of years, I don’t care nothing’s going to stop me, I’ll pay the gas prices even though I don’t want to,'” said Carey.
With airline travel hitting a bit of turbulence recently with cancellations, Carey said that’s another reason for people choosing to hit the roadways this 4th of July weekend.