AAA: 47 million Americans to travel for July 4 weekend

June 27, 202113min4640
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Peak congestion expected Thursday, July 1, 3 to 5 p.m.

 

 

 

ATLANTA, GA— Travel continues to rebound after a year-long pandemic. AAA forecasts travel volumes for Independence Day will be the second-highest on record—nearing the highs set in 2019.

More than 47.7 million Americans will take at least one domestic trip this Independence Day (July 1–5). This represents an increase of nearly 40% from last year, yet just 2.5% fewer than the 2019 holiday weekend.

Georgia travel figures are also rebounding from last year. Nearly 1.5 million Georgians are forecast to take a trip during the holiday weekend. That’s the second-most on record, and 33% more than the 2020 holiday period.

“Travel is back this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue vacations they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “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.”

Georgia Independence Day Travel Figures
Total Auto Air Other
2021 1,463,078 1,350,692 99,154 13,232
2020 1,097,625 1,049,476 39,810 8,339
2019 1,484,972 1,293,920 111,079 79,973
Change 2020-2021 33% 29% 149% 59%
Change 2019-2020 -26% -19% -64% -90%

 

Road Trips to Reach Record Highs

While all modes of travel will see increased demand this Independence Day, road trips continue to dominate this summer. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, more than 91% of holiday travel will be by car.

An expected 43.6 million Americans (1.4 million Georgians) will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019.

“Road trips provide a sense of freedom and more control over the duration of your trip,” said Garrett Townsend, Ga Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Even more expensive gas prices are unlikely to deter Americans from that road trip many have waited more than a year for. If anything, motorists are more likely to cut back on other expenses like lodging and dining out, to offset the higher cost of fuel.”

Gas Prices are Most Expensive since 2014

The 1.4 million Georgians expected to travel by car this Independence Day can expect to find the most expensive gas prices since 2014.

AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Save 30 cents per gallon on your first fill-up at Shell when you join between July 1 and August 31, 2021. Join now at AAA.com/Shell.

Air Travel Takes Off

With 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this Independence Day will reach 90% of pre-pandemic levels, and increase 164% compared to last year.

On average, airfares for the holiday period have declined 2% compared to last Independence Day. The lowest average price per ticket is $175. That’s $4 less than last year, and $13 less than the 2019 holiday weekend.

Cruising

Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72% compared to last year, but 83% lower than in 2019. This includes travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising. Cruise lines have announced limited sailings resuming from U.S. ports beginning in late June.

“AAA is so excited for the return of cruising and so are our travelers,” Haas continued. “AAA Travel Advisors have seen surging demand for cruising, and cabins are filling up fast. While cruise lines have made tremendous strides to ensure the safety and security of their crew and passengers, traveler requirements could vary based on who you sail with and where you want to go. This is also true for many facets of travel right now. Because of this, we strongly encourage travelers to work with a travel agent, who can help keep you informed and find the trip that’s right for you.”

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.

Top Destinations & Resources to Plan Your Trip

AAA Travel booking data also indicate a strong travel recovery for 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:

  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

*Based on AAA Travel advance air and tour bookings, July 1–5, 2021

Long Delays Expected for Drivers

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, along with the return trip on Monday mid-day. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see nearly double the delays verses typical drive times, with drivers in Boston and San Francisco likely to experience nearly three-times the delays.

“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delay,” 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, along with Monday mid-day.”

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel

Metro Area Corridor Peak Congestion % over Normal
Atlanta I-75 N, Jodeco Road to Jenkinsburg Road Friday, 1:00–3:00PM 50%
Boston I-95 S, MA-10 to Sanford Road Monday, 3:00–5:00PM 330%
Chicago I-90 E, W Roosevelt Road to I-294 Friday, 4:00–6:00PM 50%
Detroit I-75 N, 12 Mile Road to Oakland St Friday, 3:00–6:00PM 50%
Houston I-10 W, Bernardo Road to Pin Oak Road Saturday, 8:00–10:00AM 50%
Los Angeles I-405 N, I-5 to Jefferson Blvd Friday, 3:00–5:00PM 10%
New York I-278 E, Bronx River to Williamsburg St Thursday, 3:00–5:00PM 30%
San Francisco CA-17 N, Lark Ave to Mt Hermon Road Monday, 6:00–8:00PM 340%
Seattle I-5 S, Capitol Blvd (Olympia) to JBLM Friday, 1:00–3:00PM 20%
Washington DC I-95 S, Route 3 to Dumfries Road Thursday, 2:00–4:00PM 30%
Source: INRIX

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel

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

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