This is the highest figure on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.
Overall travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1 percent over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations to celebrate America’s birthday. For the record-high 41.4 million Americans who will travel by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with Wednesday, July 3 the worst day on the roads.
In addition to lower gas prices compared with last summer, broader economic fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, robust consumer spending, and rising disposable incomes are all encouraging more consumers to invest their hard-earned money in travel this summer.
“The strong economy and lower gas prices are a perfect combination, sparking more Americans to travel and celebrate the holiday with family and friends,” said Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central. “After the long cold winter months, beaches and theme parks are a welcomed sight and will surely serve as fun destinations this summer.”
AAA’s East Central region includes Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Here are forecast highlights for the region:
Method of Travel
Automobile: 7.6 million travelers, 4.6 percent increase
Air travel: 374,000, 2.9 percent
Other (bus, train, ship, etc.): 635,000, 1.1 percent
Region Total: 8.65 million, 4.3 percent
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 on Wednesday, 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 percent.
Lower gas prices motivating millions of road trippers
With a national average in the $2.60s, gasoline prices are lower than last year and could drop even lower into the summer. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend. Statewide, Ohio motorists are paying 12 cents less than this time last year at the pump at an average of $2.54.
Travelers paying more for July 4 car rentals and hotels
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, average car rental rates are 5 percent higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, midrange accommodations have increased and are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.
Top Independence Day travel destinations
Fun-in-the-sun locales like Orlando, Florida and the beaches of South Carolina lead the top 10 the list of popular destinations for travelers in this territory, based on advance AAA Travel bookings for Independence Day:
South Carolina’s beaches
New York City
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 — ounding 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 Wednesday, July 3.
AAA to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists
AAA expects to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Additionally, before hitting the road, motorists need to be prepared for emergencies by taking along a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.