AAA: Nearly 48 million Americans expected to travel Fourth of July weekend

Nearly 48 million Americans are expected to hit the road and take to the skies during the Fourth of July weekend, representing a return to near pre-COVID-19 pandemic traffic, the American Automobile Association confirmed.

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According to AAA, 47.9 million people plan to travel at least 50 miles from home this Independence Day, representing a 3.7% increase compared with 2021.

AAA also estimated that the five-day holiday weekend, running from June 30 through July 4, could set a record for car travel despite historically high gas prices, with an estimated 42 million travelers opting for good, old-fashioned road trips this Fourth of July.

“The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a prepared statement.

“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,” Twidale added.

By contrast, the number of people flying this holiday weekend is forcasted to be the lowest on record since 2011, which AAA analysts said may be driven by a recent spate of flight cancelations and delays.

Moreover, AAA data indicates that bookings for air travel, car rentals, cruises, hotels and tours are up 60% over last year for the top domestic Independence Day destinations and up 252% for international destinations.

Regardless of method, travelers can expect to pay more this Fourth of July, with AAA estimating the following:

  • The average lowest airfare of $201 per ticket is 14% more expensive than in 2021.
  • Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 23% year-over-year, with the average lowest nightly rates for AAA-approved hotels hovering around $244 per night.
  • The average lowest daily car rental rate of $110 is 34% lower than the rates charged one year ago but roughly $40 more per rental than during pre-pandemic years.

Meanwhile, AAA booking data indicates that Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, while Monday, July 4 should be the lightest. Thursday and Friday are expected to be peak traffic days for drivers.

“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,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst with INRIX, said in a prepared statement.

“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,” he added.

According to AAA, the following 10 cities represent the top domestic travel destinations for the 2022 Fourth of July travel weekend:

  • Orlando
  • Seattle
  • New York
  • Anaheim, California
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Las Vegas
  • Honolulu
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Chicago
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