With today’s national average of $2.66, gas prices are 19 cents less year-over-year and expected to drop even lower into the summer. - Graphic via AAA.

With today’s national average of $2.66, gas prices are 19 cents less year-over-year and expected to drop even lower into the summer.

Graphic via AAA.

More Americans than ever recorded by AAA, nearly 49 million, are planning an Independence Day getaway this year, according to the latest predictions by INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, and AAA.

Overall travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1% over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations. For the record-high 41.4 million Americans who will travel by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with July 3 the worst day on the roads.

Lower Gas Prices Motivating Millions of Road Trippers

With today’s national average of $2.66, gas prices are 19 cents less year-over-year and expected to drop even lower into the summer. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend.

Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this holiday, which are trending higher. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily. 

Independence Day Holiday Travel, by Mode

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 41.4 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 4.3% more than last year.
  • Planes: 3.96 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record and 5.3% more than last year.
  • Trains, buses and cruise ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 0.6% to 3.55 million passengers.

Record-Level Drivers Equals Record-Level Delays

For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute.

Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9%.

Region Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay
Atlanta July 5 5 - 7 p.m. 2.5x
Boston July 5 10 a.m. - noon 3.4x
Chicago July 5 1 - 3 p.m. 2x
Detroit July 3 2 - 4 p.m. 2x
Houston July 4 1 - 3 p.m. 3x
Los Angeles July 3 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 2.7x
New York July 3 1:45 - 3:45 p.m. 3.8x
San Francisco July 3 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. 2.5x
Seatte July 4 noon - 2 p.m. 3x
Washington, DC July 7 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 2.4x

 

Top Independence Day Travel Destinations

  1. Orlando
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii
  3. Seattle
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Anaheim, Calif.
  6. New York City
  7. Boston
  8. Maui, Hawaii
  9. Anchorage, Alaska
  10. Chicago

For those travelers planning an international vacation, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin, and Paris are the most popular spots for international vacations this Independence Day, with Vancouver, Canada — a top departure port for Alaskan cruises — rounding out the top five.

According to Hertz, a 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Independence Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS) and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be July 3.

Additionally, AAA expects to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside this holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.

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