HOUSTON - Holiday travel is expected to be busy for this weekend's July 4th holiday. AAA estimates that pent-up travel demand will send more than 47 million Americans out and about this weekend, up 40% percent over last year. 9 out of 10 of those travelers will be driving, while a few million will fly, instead.
Either way, the time to ensure you can get where you're trying to go, is now.
"I'd probably say half the people, before they hit the road, they'd check to make sure everything's good on their car," says Kar Doctor mechanic, Derek Lang.
By his math, that means half of drivers don't do anything special before setting out on a road trip, which could invite trouble. The last place anyone wants to be, is stuck on the side of the road, waiting for assistance.
Lang suggests a simple inspection can minimize the chance of trouble, before travel:
-Check the oil, and replace it if it's dirty.
-Make sure the engine coolant is up to par.
-The air conditioner needs to be able to keep its cooling.
-Tires need to be at the right pressure, with enough tread to keep the vehicle under control.
All of this can be done with the investment of a little time in your driveway, or an appointment with a mechanic.
"If you're mechanically inclined, and you know what you're looking for, then absolutely you can do it yourself," says Lang, "It's just that most people don't know how to read the different fluid levels, so they're not 100% sure that it's right."
Meantime, those traveling by air will have their own challenges. Before the holiday, the TSA says it screened 2.1 million passengers, marking the highest level since the start of the pandemic. All this while some airlines have struggled to maintain schedules because of weather, technical and staffing issues. With soaring demand, AAA suggests travelers should arrive at the airport two to three hours in advance to make sure they get to their gates on time.
Finally, another factor is the price of gasoline. The $3.09, a gallon, national average is the highest in seven years. There is slightly better news in Texas, where the state average is $2.77, but still well-above where it was a year ago.