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Forecasters say the long July 4 holiday will be a record-setting bash

<i>Mario Tama/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>On June 25
Mario Tama/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
On June 25

By Forrest Brown, CNN

(CNN) — In travel news this week: CNN unveils 10 fantastic US cities to visit that aren’t overrun with tourists (yet) as the nation prepares for a record-setting July 4 holiday. Also, the latest transportation tangles and troubles plus a hurricane you’ll actually like.

Americans on the go-go-go

Two of the biggest acronyms in travel – TSA and AAA – are sounding the alert: It’s gonna be busy for the loooooong July 4 holiday week. Like record-setting busy.

The Transportation Security Administration said it expected to screen more than 32 million folks at US airports from June 27 through July 8. That would be a 5.4% increase over the 2023 Independence Day holiday. “We expect this summer to be our busiest ever and summer travel usually peaks over the Independence Day holiday,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a news release this week. He vows the agency is ready for the security line onslaught.

Automotive agency AAA expects 70.9 million Americans to travel 50 miles (80 kilometers) or more from home. More than 85% will be going by auto. At least the Covid-19 pandemic is just a dusty blip in the rear-view mirror. “We anticipate this July 4th week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. Check here for peak congestion times in Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and other major cities.

In other news from often-crowded places: Disney announced this week that its Genie + ride reservation service, used to help savvy planners avoid long lines, is being put back in the bottle. In its place at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney Word in Florida: Lightning Lanes. One of the main differences is visitors will be able to book up to three attractions seven days beforehand if staying at a park hotel. (And it’s three days in advance if staying off-site). Get the details here.

If all these crowds milling around shoulder-to-shoulder in record summer heat feels off-putting, check out the least-visited US national parks for an escape hatch.

The heat is going to send plenty of others seaside this coming week. And you’ll need something to put all your stuff in. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have you covered with the best in beach bags and totes.

10 best US towns to visit in 2024

If you like the urban experience but feel like you’ve had enough bites of the Big Apple and other crowded, expensive cities, this is for you. At CNN Travel, we tapped our network of contributors for nominations to come up with our inaugural list of America’s 10 Best Towns to Visit.

They’re spread from New England and the South to the heartland and the West. They’re places where you’ll often find small-town vibes and loads of personality as well as plenty to see and do. And they’re easier on the budget.

The list shows that the United States, which was recently selected as the world’s best country for tourism, is filled with communities committed to making their towns better – for themselves and the people who come to visit.

Transportation mishaps and misdeeds

We’ve seen another rough go of it lately as people tried to move from Point A to Point B.

A power cut led to delays and disruptions at one of the United Kingdom’s busiest airports. Across the Atlantic in Naples, Florida, a former customs official pleaded guilty to stealing cash from arriving passengers. Over in South Korea, flights at Incheon International were disrupted because of balloons, launched by North Korea, filled with trash.

In water woes, the world’s largest cruise ship caught fire while berthed in Mexico. And while it is admittedly a stretch to call a roller coaster “transportation,” we thought you might want to see this video of people having to climb off a classic ride in California after a mid-ride emergency.

Hurricane forecast: Delicious!

Now here’s a way to relax and add a rush to your Fourth of July holiday. Bar owner Neal Bodenheimer shows the right way to prepare a proper New Orleans Hurricane. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.)

In case you missed it

This saltwater lagoon is legally a person.

Here’s why that could help it survive.

The world’s most livable cities.

An elegant cultural oasis in Europe tops the list. Again.

This comedian wasn’t joking around when …

He said he’d prefer life in Estonia to the United States.

Slamming the door on overtourism!

This Iberian city will end apartment rentals by foreign tourists.

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