Jun. 29—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.
"AAA Travel Advisors continue to see a high demand for travel during the Independence Day holiday," said Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. "The summer travel season is kicking into high gear and, despite higher gas prices, Americans are ready for a break and that much-needed vacation."
Car travel volume, even with national gas prices averaging over $5 per gallon, will break previous records as 42 million opt to drive this Independence Day.
The holiday 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. It's recommended travelers look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel advisors 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 last year, the average daily rate for car rentals has 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, rates are $40 more/day on average than in 2019.
* 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 tires. 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. 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.
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.
For those traveling this Independence Day, it's important to keep safety in mind. It's easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal — kicking off their summer vacation safely.