Menu More MORE
AAA
Roadside... Roadside Assistance

AAA: Nearly 71 Million People Expected to Travel over July 4th Week

2024 extended Independence Day forecast exceeds pre-pandemic numbers, sets new record

Travel
american flag 1

AAA: Nearly 71 Million People Expected to Travel over July 4th Week

2024 extended Independence Day forecast exceeds pre-pandemic numbers, sets new record

 

AAA projects 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day holiday travel period*. For the first time, AAA looked at the entire July 4th week, plus the Saturday before and the Sunday after the holiday. This year’s projected number of travelers for that period is a 5% increase compared to 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019.

“Americans are embracing the opportunity to travel over the Independence Day holiday in record-breaking numbers,” said Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “Whether by car, plane, or train, we are seeing more people planning extended trips over the holiday to celebrate with family and friends.”

AAA projects a record 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week – that’s an additional 2.8 million travelers compared to last year. This year’s number also surpasses 2019 when 55.3 million people traveled by car over July 4th week. AAA car rental partner Hertz says Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are the cities displaying the highest rental demand during the holiday week. The busiest pick-up days are projected to be Friday, June 28, Saturday, June 29, and Wednesday, July 3.

Gas prices are lower than last year when the national average was $3.53. It is important to remember that it is hurricane season which could affect gas prices should a storm negatively impact Gulf Coast oil production and refining centers.

The number of air travelers is also expected to set a record. AAA projects 5.74 million people will fly to their July 4th destinations. That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to last year and a 12% increase over 2019. AAA booking data shows domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year, and the average price for a domestic roundtrip ticket is $800. Airports will be packed throughout the week. AAA recommends arriving 2 hours early, reserving parking ahead of time, and traveling with carry-on luggage versus checked bags to save time and money.

More than 4.6 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains. This category is seeing an increase of 9% compared to last year, but this year’s number is shy of 2019’s figure of 4.79 million. Cruising continues its remarkable post-pandemic comeback. This time of year, Alaska cruises are in high demand, making Seattle and Anchorage top domestic destinations. Cruise travelers are also finding deals this summer. With new ships coming onto the market – and going for a premium – some cruise lines have been offering targeted discounts to fill older inventory for remaining cabins.

Best/Worst Times to Drive

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says the worst times to travel by car before and on July 4th are between 2pm and 7pm. Drivers should hit the road in the morning, and travelers returning on Monday, July 8th should avoid rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3rd, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7th, as they return,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal. Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions.”

 

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

Date

Worst Travel Time

Best Travel Time

Monday, Jul 1

Minimal Traffic Impact Expected

 

Tuesday, Jul 2

2:00 - 6:00 PM

After 7:00 PM

Wednesday, Jul 3

2:00 - 7:00 PM

Before Noon

Thursday, Jul 4

2:00 - 7:00 PM

Before Noon

Friday, Jul 5

11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Before 10:00 AM

Saturday, Jul 6

10:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Before 10:00 AM

Sunday, Jul 7

2:00 - 8:00 PM

Before 11:00 AM

Monday, Jul 8

1:00 - 5:00 PM

After 7:00 PM

Source: INRIX

Source: INRIX

Top Destinations

This July 4th week, travelers are cooling off in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska – and by the ocean! Seattle, Vancouver, and Anchorage are top destinations because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Beaches in South Florida, Honolulu, Punta Cana, and Barcelona are in high demand. Historical sites in European cities like London, Rome, Dublin, Paris, and Athens are also popular. The top 10 domestic and international destinations below are based on AAA booking data.

 

DOMESTIC

INTERNATIONAL

Seattle, WA

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Orlando, FL

London, England

Anchorage, AK

Rome, Italy

Honolulu, HI

Dublin, Ireland

Miami, FL

Paris, France

New York, NY

Calgary, AB, Canada

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Las Vegas, NV

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Denver, CO

Athens, Greece

Anaheim/Los Angeles, CA

Barcelona, Spain

 

Family Road Trip Checklist

With road trips expected to set a record this July 4th week, AAA teamed up with Chicco to share safety tips for families with young children.

  • Check car seat fit. Before hitting the road, check children’s weight and height to ensure they’re in the right seat and mode of use – especially when it comes to transitioning from rear to forward-facing. Children should remain rear-facing as long as possible for better protection of their head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash. If unsure which car seat is best, Chicco offers a car seat comparison guide.
  • Double check car seat installation. Even if a car seat is already installed in the car, it’s worth checking everything is safe and secure. An easy at-home way to do this is with the “inch test.” Simply grab the seat at the car seat belt path and pull side to side and front to back. If it moves more than one inch in any direction, uninstall and start over until a secure fit is achieved. For any questions, utilize the car seat manual, QR codes, or online resources like those offered by Chicco.
  • Secure loose items in the car. Take time to organize and clean up a vehicle before hitting the road. Storage organizers that secure to the back of the driver and passenger seats are simple solutions to make sure everything has a spot, especially loose items that can become projectiles in case of a sudden stop.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Pack an emergency kit with first-aid supplies, water, snacks, blankets, jumper cables, and flares. Make sure phones are fully charged - and keep a charger in the car – to call AAA or request roadside assistance digitally in the event of a breakdown.
  • Map routes ahead of time. Families with young children should plan for frequent and longer stops along the way. Routes can be selected with AAA TripTik and hotels, restaurants, and other activities along the way can be found on AAA Trip Canvas.
  • Bring entertainment. Make sure to place toys and books within reach to keep children entertained. If children use tablets or other electronics, make sure the devices are fully charged and pre-downloaded before leaving home.

Holiday Forecast Methodology  

Travel Forecast 

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from SPGMI’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices, including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and SPGMI have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000. 

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior, all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and SPGMI forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of May 27, 2024.

Because AAA forecasts focus on domestic leisure travel only, comparisons to TSA passenger screening numbers should not be made. TSA data includes all passengers traveling on both domestic and international routes. Additionally, TSA screens passengers each time they enter secured areas of the airport, therefore each one-way trip is counted as a passenger tally. AAA focuses on person-trips, which include the full round-trip travel itinerary. As a result, direct comparisons of AAA forecast volumes and daily TSA screenings represent different factors.

*Independence Day Holiday Travel Period

For this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the nine-day period from Saturday, June 29 to Sunday, July 7. Historically, the Independence Day holiday period included only one weekend. This is the first year the Independence Day holiday travel period is a longer timeframe with two weekends included.

About S&P Global 
S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses, and individuals with the right data, expertise, and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges, and accelerate progress for the world. We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity, and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow today. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com

About DKSA 

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually, and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company. 

About INRIX   

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com. 

 

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 70 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © AAA East Central. All Rights Reserved.
AAA East Central is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.