AAA: More than 47.7 million to travel on July 4 weekend

As leisure travel continues to surge, most will drive to their destinations

More than 47.7 million people are expected to travel around the U.S. the July 4 holiday weekend, according to AAA Travel. That’s 40 percent more than last year and only 2.5 percent fewer than the same time in 2019.

AMERICANS ARE TRAVELING again, and the July 4 weekend is expected to see the second highest travel volume for that holiday weekend on record, according to AAA Travel. As in years past, most travelers will be taking road trips.

AAA forecasts that more than 47.7 million people will travel on Independence Day holiday weekend. That’s 2.5 percent fewer than the same time in 2019 and 40 percent more than last year.

More than 91 percent of holiday travel will be by car, with 43.6 million Americans expected to drive to their destinations. That’s the highest on record for driving on this holiday and 5 percent more than the previous record set in 2019. With 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this Independence Day will reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, and increase 164 percent compared to last year, according to AAA.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, AAA senior vice president. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

Other means of transportation, such as trains and cruise liners, are expected to carry 620,000 travelers to their holiday destinations. That number is 72 percent higher than last year but 83 percent lower than in 2019.

Holiday drivers can expect to pay more at the pump. AAA forecasts gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014 with the national average likely to remain above $3 per gallon.

“Higher gas prices won’t deter road trippers this summer. In fact, we’re expecting record-breaking levels of car travel this July Fourth,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “Though prices will remain above $3 a gallon, travelers are likely to look for more free activities or eat out less, but still take their vacations as planned.”

Hotels will need to pass more rigorous inspections for cleanliness to acquire AAA’s Diamond status this year. Those inspections will begin this summer.

Theme parks in Orlando and southern California, as well destinations including Denver, Las Vegas and Seattle are topping the list of Independence Day destinations this year. Top Independence Day travel destinations, based on AAA’s advance air and tour bookings for July 1 to 5, are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Anaheim, California
  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

Despite the pandemic, more than 36 million travelers took to the road last year, according to travel data company Arrivalist. Most preferred remote destinations, such as Mt. Rushmore where President Trump held an event over the weekend, according to Arrivalist’s daily travel index, which measures only trips taken by car that are longer than 50 miles.