July 4 Travel Sizzles This Year

Posted: June 21st, 2018

Because Independence Day falls mid-week this year, a record-breaking 47 million Americans will travel this holiday, a 5.3% increase over last year, and the highest July 4th number since AAA started tracking travel statistics nearly two decades ago. AAA defines the holiday travel period as Tuesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 8.

Of the overall 47 million travelers:

  • Nearly 40 million, a 5% increase, will take the car;
  • Nearly 4 million, an almost 8% increase, will fly; and

·         3.5 million, a nearly 6% increase will take some other mode of transportation such as trains, buses, and cruise ships on vacation.

What’s driving the record numbers? “A strong economy, more disposable income and the fact that July 4th falls on a Wednesday” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokesman. This gives travelers more flexibility to schedule trips the weekend before or after the holiday.”

For the 40 million Americans hitting the road this year, Global Transportation Analytics Company INRIX, cautions drivers that:

·         Travel times in the New York and Boston areas could be twice as long than normal trips;

·         They’ll experience the worst congestion Tuesday, July 3 in the late afternoon as travelers mix with commuters on roadways; and

·         They should travel on off-peak commuting hours or seek alternate routes.

What Will It Cost To Drive, Fly?

Average prices nationally and locally have slowly started falling since the nation experienced a 2018 high of $2.97 set over Memorial Day weekend.

Today (June 21) the national gas price is $2.87, 59 cents more than a year ago; while in Connecticut, prices average $3.10, 64 cents more than last year.

Travelers who fly will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes, according to AAA’s Travel Index. This figure is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9% less than last year.

On the other hand, travelers who rent cars and stay in mid-range hotels can expect to pay higher prices.  At $66, the average daily car rental cost is 2% higher than last year; while the average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond hotels is $147, 11% more than last year.  AAA Three Diamond hotels average $187, a 2% increase.

Where Are We Going?

This holiday, travelers are flocking to theme parks in Orlando and southern California, while others are heading to the Great Northwest. Alaskan cruises departing from Seattle, Anchorage and Vancouver round out the top five U.S. travel destinations this 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. Here is the complete list:

Top Domestic Travel Destinations

Top International Travel Destinations

1.       Orlando, Florida

1.       Rome, Italy

2.       Anaheim, California

2.       London, England

3.       Seattle, Washington

3.       Dublin, Ireland

4.       Anchorage, Alaska

4.       Vancouver, Canada

5.       Honolulu, Hawaii

5.       Paris, France

AAA projects are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit that analyzes travel trends during major holidays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.