Fourth of July travel volume expected to be second highest on record: AAA

ORLANDO, Fla. (WTVQ) – Over 47.7 million Americans are anticipated to travel to celebrate Independence Day as travel volumes should almost go back to pre-pandemic levels.

According to AAA, this will be the second-highest Fourth of July travel volume on record, behind only 2019 by 2.5%. Travel fell to 34.2 million last year, showing an anticipated 40% jump from that.

Road trips are expected to be the dominant mode of travel for the holiday at over 91% with 43.6 million Americans, despite the highest gas prices in seven years at above $3 per gallon. Air travel volumes will get to 90% of pre-pandemic levels, and increase 164% compared to 2020 as 3.5 million people plan to fly.

“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, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “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 modes of transportation will see holiday travel increases with 620,000 Americans planning to travel by bus, train and cruises.

2021 Independence Day Holiday Travelers
Total Automobile Air Other(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2021 (Forecast) 47.7M 43.6M 3.5M 620,000
2020 (Actual)* 34.2M 32.5M 1.3M 359,000
2019 (Actual) 48.9M 41.5M 3.9M 3.5M
Change (2019 to 2021) −2.5% +5.1% −10.3% −82.5%
Change (2020 to 2021) +39.6% +34.1% +163.8% +72.7%

*AAA did not issue an Independence Day holiday travel forecast in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, actual travel volumes were recorded after the holiday for comparison purposes this year.

AAA also analyzed and gathered a list of the top Independence Day travel destinations based on AAA Travel advance air and tour bookings. That list includes:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Anaheim, CA
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Chicago, IL
  7. New York, NY
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Kahului, Maui, HI

With more travel volume will come long delays, so travelers should be aware of the worst and best times to travel during the holiday.

Date Worst Time Best Time
Thursday 3:00 – 5:00PM After 7:00PM
Friday 4:00 – 5:00PM Before 12:00PM
Saturday 11:00AM – 1:00PM After 2:00PM
Sunday Free flow expected
Monday 4:00 – 5:00PM Before 1:00PM

Source: INRIX

Among AAA’s findings were price analyses. Average airfare cost has gone done 2% since last Independence Day, but hotel and car rental prices are climbing along with demand. Mid-range hotel rates have gone up between 32% and 35%. Daily car rental rates have increased 86% since last Fourth of July, hitting a maximum price of $166.

AAA also offered some travel tips for the holiday. Working with a travel agent could help with trip planning, changes to travel plans, and travel insurance options. Keep in mind local and state travel restrictions and refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and for the latest information. The CDC recommends those who are not vaccinated to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested for COVID-19 before and after traveling. Regardless of vaccination status, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Additionally, drivers should plan their route in advance and make sure their vehicle is ready in order to avoid a breakdown along the way.

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