Expect busy airports Thursday ahead of July 4th weekend

Despite the recent uptick in fuel prices, 41 million Americans are expected to make a getaway for the Independence Day weekend.  The Fourth of July falls on a Friday, but many Americans won't be satisfied with just a three-day weekend.

Data from travel website Orbitz finds travelers stretching it to four, making Thursday the busiest and most expensive day for a flight.

"July 3rd is actually going to be the busiest travel day. Travel on July 4th should be about 30 percent less than on July 3rd. And we're seeing that this strong demand is actually driving prices up over the holiday weekend," said Orbitz Senior Travel Editor Jeanenne Tornatore.

Both Orbitz and AAA find slightly higher hotel rates for the holiday weekend over last year.  Orbitz suggests looking beyond city limits for deals.  For example, if planning a trip to the nation's capital, look across the river in Arlington, Virginia.

"Often times this will net you big savings, especially when things are pretty booked to capacity in the heart of the city," Tornatore said.

AAA says about 80% of travelers will go by car, despite the highest gas prices for the holiday weekend since 2008.  For those who don't want to hit the road or take to the skies with the masses, it may be worth it to wait.

"It will be pretty busy through the remainder of July, but come August, travelers should try to take advantage of some of the deals to these destinations," Tornatore said.

Travel demand typically drops in August, especially at family-friendly destinations, as children head back to school.

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