Travel

From Sea to Shining Sea: AAA Predicts 47.9 Million People Will Travel This July 4th

Car travel expected to set a new record despite the historically high gas prices

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jun 21, 2022) – 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.

“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
Total Automobile Air

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2022 (Forecast) 47.9M 42.0M 3.55M 2.42M
2021 (Actual) 46.2M 41.8M 3.50M 900,000
2019 (Actual) 49.0M 41.5M 3.91M 3.54M
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)
Automobile Air Other
88% 7% 5%

“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.”

This Summer, Travel Stress-Free

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.

Top Destinations include Big Cities and International Favorites

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

Road Trips are King this Independence Day

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.”

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel
Metro Area Corridor Peak Congestion % Over Normal
Atlanta I-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK Dr Thursday, 2:30-4:30 PM 134%
Boston I-93 S, Purchase St to MA-24 Thursday, 2:00-4:00 PM 103%
Chicago I-290 W, Morgan St to Wolf Rd Friday, 2:45-4:45 PM 100%
Detroit I-696 W, MI-10 to I-275 Thursday, 3:30-5:30 PM 67%
Houston I-69 N, I-610 to I-10 Friday, 3:30-5:30 PM 92%
Los Angeles I-5 S, Colorado St to Florence Ave Friday, 4:15-6:15 PM 147%
New York Belt Parkway W, Cohancy St to I-278 Saturday, 10:30 AM-12:30 PM 142%
San Francisco I-80 W, Maritime St to San Pablo Dam Rd Thursday, 5:45-7:45 PM 75%
Seattle I-5 S, WA-18 to WA-7 Friday, 4:00-6:00 PM 138%
Washington DC I-495 Counterclockwise; New Hampshire Ave to I-267 Thursday, 3:15-5:15PM 63%
Source: INRIX

 

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
Source: INRIX

Remember – Be Kind and Patient

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.

Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence, a world-leading provider of financial information and solutions, developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior —all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of May 23, 2022.

Independence Day Holiday Travel Period

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.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. INRIX’s partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Media Contact for INRIX
Mark Burfeind
(425) 284-3825

About S&P Global

S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses and individuals with the right data, expertise and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges and accelerate progress for the world. We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow, today. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com.

About DKSA

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company.

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