AAA: Nearly 47 Million Americans Will Set New Independence Day Holiday Travel Record

INRIX predicts travel times during the holiday week will double compared to normal trips

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (June 21, 2018) – A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday, an increase of more than 5 percent compared with last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking 18 years ago. For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as than the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day. In Virginia, there will be over 1.2 million travelers heading out to celebrate the holiday, a 5.8 percent increase from the previous year.

 

“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”

 

In addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is helped by Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday. The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.

 

By the Numbers: 2018 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast

 

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 39.7 million – will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year. AAA projects 1.1 million Virginians will be taking to the road this year with a 5.7 percent increase from last year. 
  • Planes: A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by air, a 7.9 percent increase and the ninth year of consecutive air travel volume increases. Those traveling by air in the Commonwealth will be almost 100,000, a 7 percent increase overall from 2017.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 5.8 percent to a total of 3.5 million passengers. AAA is anticipating about 72,000 Virginians to travel by other modes, a 5.6 percent increase from the year before.

 

Drivers Beware: Terrible Tuesday

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion over the holiday week on Tuesday, July 3 in the late afternoon – as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Travel times could increase two-fold in the major metros across the U.S., with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. experiencing the most significant delays.

 

“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around major metros,” says Scott Sedlik, general manager and vice president - public sector, INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will hands down be the worst time to be on the road. Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”

 

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip

San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, July 3

3:00 - 6:00 PM

1.7x

Seattle, WA

Tuesday, July 3

3:00 - 6:00 PM

1.8x

Detroit, MI

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 5:30 PM

1.6x

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 5:30 PM

2x

Boston, MA

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 6:30 PM

1.8x

New York, NY

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 6:30 PM

2.3x

Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM

1.6x

Chicago, IL

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM

1.7x

Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM

2.1x

Houston, TX

Tuesday, July 3

4:30 - 6:30 PM

1.8x

 

 

 

Source: INRIX

 

 

 

Gas Prices Starting to Stabilize Heading into Independence Day
Gas prices have slowly but steadily started to fall since the 2018 high of $2.97 set over Memorial Day weekend. Since then, the national gas price has dropped five cents to $2.92 (as of June 12), which is 57 cents more than one year ago. However, the higher prices are having little effect on travelers this Independence Day, with record number of travelers still planning to hit the road this year. In Virginia, the current average price for gas is $2.63, which is five cents lower than last week, nine cents less than last month, but .57 more than last year. Hampton Roads is following a similar trend with $2.64 for a gallon of gas, which is six cents less than last week, a .10 decrease from last month, and a .62 increase from last year.

 

Travelers Paying Less for Airfare, More for Car Rentals and Hotels

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. That is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9 percent less than last year.

 

However, travelers can expect to pay more to rent a car and stay at mid-range hotels this Independence Day. At $66, the average daily cost of a car rental is a slight increase of 2 percent over last year. The average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond hotels is $147, 11 percent more than last year, while AAA Three Diamond hotels will average $187, a 2 percent year-over-year increase.

 

Theme Parks and Europe are Major Draws this Independence Day
This Independence Day, travelers will flock to theme parks in Orlando and southern California, while many others are heading west. Alaska cruises departing from Seattle, Anchorage and Vancouver round out the top five U.S. travel destinations for the holiday. For those venturing overseas, Europe is a major draw, with Rome, London, Dublin and Paris all making the list of top international travel destinations for Independence Day.

 

Top Domestic Travel Destinations

Top International Travel Destinations

  1. Orlando, Florida
  1. Rome, Italy
  1. Anaheim, California
  1. London, England
  1. Seattle, Washington
  1. Dublin, Ireland
  1. Anchorage, Alaska
  1. Vancouver, Canada
  1. Honolulu, Hawaii
  1. Paris, France

 

Source: AAA’s advance travel bookings

AAA to Rescue More Than 362,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside around the Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

 

Download the AAA Mobile App Before Independence Day
Before heading out on a trip for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

 

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

 

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. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small. Learn more at INRIX.com.

 

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia.