With the 4th of July weekend just ahead, many Iowans will be declaring their independence from the pandemic by taking vacations for the first time in many months.

Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for AAA Iowa, says people are packing up for road trips and jaunts via airplane. Nationwide, more than 47.7 million Americans are projected to be plotting getaways between July 1st and 5th.

“That means that we are nearly recovered from the pandemic levels,” Mitts says. “This is the second-highest Independence Day travel volume we have on record, trailing only behind 2019 with just 2.5% fewer Americans traveling this year compared to 2019.”

The travel predictions for the upcoming holiday represent an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, what Mitts says is a remarkable figure.

“Some of it is just pandemic fatigue and staying home is really getting to people,” Mitts says. “The summer is nice. People are wanting to get back out. Part of it is just that desire to go see people and be able to see things again. It’s been a long time since many people have traveled.”

While all modes of travel will see increased demand this Independence Day, road trips will dominate this summer. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, Triple-A projects more than 91% of holiday travel will be by car. Gasoline prices in Iowa are now averaging $2.89 a gallon, a significant hike from $2.05 one year ago.

“So, quite a big difference between 2021 and 2020, but that’s to be expected as there weren’t people traveling last year, there wasn’t this demand,” Mitts says. “We’re back to basically the pre-pandemic levels. We always see an increase around a holiday weekend and during the summer as people are taking to the roads.”

Iowa’s cheapest gas is in Council Bluffs at $2.85 a gallon, while it’s most expensive in Dubuque at $2.96. The national average is $3.07.