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 percent fewer than the 2019 holiday weekend.
Florida travel figures are also rebounding from last year. Nearly 2.6 million Floridians are forecast to take a trip during the holiday weekend. That’s the second-most on record, and 36 percent 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, the vice president of travel for AAA and 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.”
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 percent of holiday travel will be by car.
An expected 43.6 million Americans (2.4 million Floridians) will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5 percent 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 Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA and 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.”
The 2.4 million Floridians expected to travel by car are likely to find the most expensive Independence Day gas prices since 2014. In recent years, Florida gas prices averaged $2.11 (2020), $2.68 (2019), $2.73 (2018), $2.15 (2017), $2.23 (2016), $2.67 (2015), and $3.60 (2014) on Independence Day.
On Monday, June 21, Florida gas prices averaged $2.94 per gallon.
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.
On average, airfares for the holiday period have declined 2 percent 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.
Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72 percent compared to last year, but 83 percent 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 said. “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.”
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:
- Orlando, FL
- Anaheim, CA
- Denver, CO
- Las Vegas, NV
- Seattle, WA
- Chicago, IL
- New York, NY
- Atlanta, GA
- Boston, MA
- Kahului, Maui, HI
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 travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15 percent over normal this holiday weekend. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delay,” said Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for 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.”
Daily car rental rates have increased 86 percent compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers. This production delay has presented a domino effect as rental car companies work to increase their inventory of new vehicles in time to meet the increased demand for domestic road travel.