AAA: 47.9 million people to travel during Independence Day weekend

Driving remains the most popular mode of travel despite high gas prices

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AAA Travel Report
AAA Travel predicted that 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Independence Day holiday weekend this year, higher than the past two years and nearly equal to 2019 levels. Car travel is expected to set a new record despite historically high gas prices with 42 million people hit the road.

AS MANY AS 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day weekend from June 30 to July 4, an increase of 3.7 percent over 2021, according to AAA Travel. It added that car travel will set a new record, despite historically high gas prices, with 42 million people hitting the road mainly due to recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancelations and delays.

Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards, AAA said in a statement. However, the share of air travel will be the lowest since 2011.

According to AAA, 46.2 million people traveled during Independence Day last year and the number was 49 million in 2019, before the pandemic.

“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, AAA senior vice president. “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.”

AAA said that the average lowest airfare is 14 percent more than last year at $201 a ticket. Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 23 percent, and the average lowest nightly rates are at $244 per night.

Though daily car rental rates decreased 34 percent compared to last year, the average lowest rate is at $110 a day, which is $40 more per day on average when compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Based on AAA booking data, July 1 will be the busiest day for air travel during the weekend, with July 4 being the lightest. June 30 and July 1 are anticipated to be peak traffic days during the weekend for road trips.

“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 percent compared to normal. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays,” said 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.”

AAA’s top Independence Day destinations for this year are:

  • Orlando
  • Seattle
  • New York
  • Anaheim, California
  • Anchorage
  • Lauderdale, Florida
  • Las Vegas
  • Honolulu
  • Denver
  • Chicago

In May, AAA predicted that 39.2 million people will travel for Memorial Day.