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Everything costs more, but many North Carolinians will travel for 4th of July


1.4 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more over the 4th of July weekend, according to AAA Carolinas.

A majority of travelers will drive, according to AAA spokesperson Tiffany Wright. The most popular destination, she says, is a perennial favorite.

"I say this every year, but it reigns supreme in the biggest destinations," Wright said. "And that's whether you're flying or driving. Everybody wants to see Mickey. So Orlando, Florida continues to be our top destination."

While gas prices are above four dollars per gallon, Wright says drivers are willing to pay more, though they may cut back on other expenses.

"They're going to try and find other ways to cut costs, whether that be a cheaper hotel, or find ways to cut costs with food, or entertainment," she said.

Law enforcement agencies across the state have increased patrols to crack down on speeding and drunk driving. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has suspended lane closures and road work through the evening of July 5.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport expects to serve 187,000 passengers over the long weekend — more than last year but about 7% less than the pre-pandemic July 4th of 2019. Meanwhile, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, a major hub for American Airlines, predicts the number of flyers could surpass 2019 figures.

RDU advises travelers to arrive at least two hours early in order to have enough time to check in and go through security. The airport is using the holiday to test a new screening technology that is designed to allow flyers to keep more items in their carry-ons.

Airlines have stumbled badly over the last two holiday weekends, and the number of Americans flying over the weekend is expected to set records for the pandemic era. Problems have been popping up already, with high numbers of cancellations this week, some of them caused by thunderstorms that snarled air traffic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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