Summer travel is already in full swing and Independence Day will be no exception as AAA predicts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4).
This is an increase of 3.7% over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. The biggest surprise – car travel – will set a new record despite historically high gas prices with 42 million people hitting the road. With crowded roads and busy airports, AAA wants to prepare travelers so they can have a stress-free July 4th celebration, AAA said.
“The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.”
Car travel volume, even with national average gas prices going over the $5 mark, will break previous records as 42 million opt to drive this Independence Day. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancelations and delays may be driving this increase. In fact, the share of people traveling by air will be the lowest since 2011.
|2022 Independence Day Holiday Travelers|
(Bus, Train, Cruise)
|Change (2019 to 2022)||-2.1%||1.1%||-9.3%||-31.6%|
|Change (2021 to 2022)||3.7%||0.4%||1.5%||167.9%|
|Share of Travelers by Mode (2022)|
“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” continued Twidale. “But not all destinations are within driving distance, which doesn’t mean you have to abandon your vacation plans. The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancelation. They are your best advocate.”
Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards with no sign of slowing down. It is important travelers are prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the holiday. AAA offers the following advice:
- Have a plan A, B and C. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability may be limited, which will impact pricing. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely so it’s recommended to look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel agents are a great resource since they may know of a deal that may not be readily available to the public.
- Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 14% more than last year coming in at $201/ticket.
- Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 23%, with the average lowest nightly rates coming in at $244/night for AAA Approved Hotels.
- Car Rentals— Since the holidays last year, the average daily rate for car rentals have continued to increase. With more people traveling, these prices remain on the rise due to continued supply chain issues coupled with growing demand. While daily car rental rates have decreased 34% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $110/day, when compared to pre-pandemic years like 2019, rates are $40 more/day on average.
- B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip. AAA expects to respond to over 446,000 calls for roadside assistance over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Make sure to get a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip but especially for components like a vehicle’s battery, engine and t Even a vehicle in top shape can run into an issue so it’s a good idea to pack a well-stocked emergency kit and have roadside assistance just in case.
- Beat the rush. Travel on off-peak times or days or pick a hidden gem closer to home. Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4) with Monday, July 4 being the lightest. For those hitting the road, the Thursday and Friday before the holiday are anticipated to be peak traffic days.
AAA booking data reveals that big cities and international classics are top destinations this Independence Day. AAA data shows that bookings for air, car rentals, cruise, hotel, and tours are up 60% over last year for the top domestic Independence Day destinations and up 252% for international.
|2022 Top Independence Day Destinations|
|U.S Destinations||International Destinations|
|Orlando, FL||Vancouver, BC, Canada|
|Seattle, WA||Paris, France|
|New York, NY||London, England|
|Anaheim, CA||Rome, Italy|
|Anchorage, AK||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Dublin, Ireland|
|Las Vegas, NV||Calgary, AB, Canada|
|Honolulu, HI||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic|
|Denver, CO||Cancun, Mexico|
|Chicago, IL||Nassau, Bahamas|
Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.
“Even with gas hitting record prices, travelers are still eager to hit the road this summer. We expect nationwide travel times to increase about 50% compared to normal. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays,” says Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon.”
|Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel|
|Day||Worst Time||Best Time|
|Thursday||2:00-8:00 PM||Before 7:00 AM / After 8:00 PM|
|Friday||12:00-9:00 PM||Before 10:00 AM / After 9:00 PM|
|Saturday||2:00-4:00 PM||Before 12:00 PM / After 7:00 PM|
|Sunday||Low congestion expected all day|
|Monday||Low congestion expected all day|
For those traveling this Independence Day, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. It’s easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal – kicking off their summer vacation safely.
For purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4. The five-day holiday length is consistent with previous holiday periods.