AAA: Americans Will Set New Independence Day Holiday Travel Record
Burnsville, Minn. (June 21, 2018) – A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday, a 5 percent increase from last year and the most travelers for the holiday since AAA began tracking 18 years ago.
Read the full report here
The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8. For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, Tuesday will be the busiest day. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as the normal trip.
“We are already seeing a busy summer travel season and Independence Day will be no exception,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Consumers remain confident in the economy and have additional disposable income to put toward a summer getaway.”
In addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is aided by Independence Day landing on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday.
By the Numbers: 2018 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast
- Total Travelers – nearly 47 million Americans will travel for Independence Day, 5.3 percent more than last year.
- Automobiles – 39.7 million will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than 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.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships – Travel across these sectors will increase by 5.8 percent to a total of 3.5 million passengers.
Gas Prices Moving Lower into Independence Day
Motorists will find the most expensive Independence Day gas prices in 3-4 years. Last year’s holiday, the average price was $2.17 in Minnesota, $2.13 in Iowa and $2.23 nationwide. On July 4, 2015, gas prices averaged $2.65 in Minnesota, $2.68 in Iowa and $2.77 nationwide. During the 2014 holiday, a gallon of regular averaged $3.56 in Minnesota, $3.53 in Iowa and $3.66 nationwide.
On Wednesday, prices at the pump averaged $2.78 in Minnesota, $2.73 in Iowa and $2.87 nationwide. Fortunately, fuel prices are falling. Since peaking at $2.97 Memorial Day weekend, the national average declined 10 cents.
“The outcome of tomorrow’s OPEC meeting will steer gas prices heading into Independence Day,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Prices have slipped lower under the belief that OPEC will agree to increase crude output. Raising production rates would suppress crude oil prices and encourage cheaper prices at the pump.”
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.”
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.
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.
AAA and Budweiser Offering Tow-to-Go during Holiday in Select States
AAA encourages those who plan to be on the road traveling to and from festivities to make preparations ahead of time for getting home safely. Whether it’s using a designated driver, taxi or rideshare service, having a plan helps ensure celebrations don’t turn deadly.
Tow to Go program – a partnership between AAA and Budweiser – will be available Tuesday, July 3rd through 6am on Thursday, July 5th to offer free rides for anyone needing to get home safely. Tow to Go has provided safe rides to more than 25,000 impaired drivers across the Southeast and the Midwest since 1998.
The following guidelines apply to the Tow to Go program:
| Tow To Go Service Areas || Phone Number |
|Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota, Nebraska, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Indiana (Fort Wayne and South Bend only) |
|(855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246 |
- Confidential local ride to a safe location within 10 miles
Download the AAA Mobile App Before Independence Day
- The AAA tow truck takes the vehicle and the driver home
- Free and available to AAA members and non-members
- Tow to Go may not be available in rural areas or during severe weather conditions
- Visit AAA.com/TowtoGo for dates and availability throughout 2018
- If you are hosting a party, please do so responsibly. Check out the Great Pretenders Party Guide from the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation to learn more.
Before heading out on a trip for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Travelers who download the app gain access to the following features:
- Request AAA roadside service
- Find the lowest gas prices
- Access exclusive member discounts
- Make travel arrangements
- Find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities
- Review 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants and more.
Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
About the Travel Report
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 AAA - The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.5 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 58 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
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.