AAA: Independence Day Car Travel to Set New Record Despite Soaring Gas Prices

In all, 48 million Americans including 549,000 Oregonians to travel for the 4th of July

Updated 6/24/2022

PORTLAND, Ore., – AAA says the travel volume for the 4th of July holiday is just shy of 2019 with 47.9 million Americans (14.5% of the population) including 549,000 Oregonians taking a trip. This is up 3.7% over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost to pre-pandemic levels.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

The biggest surprise is car travel will set a new record, surpassing pre-pandemic volumes, despite record high gas prices. AAA says 42 million people including 441,000 Oregonians will take a road trip for the holiday.

Air travel will increase slightly, up 1.5% over last year with 3.5 million taking to the skies.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 6.8 million people (12.8% of the population) are expected to travel, a 4.3% increase compared to 2021. In Oregon, roughly 549,000 will travel over the long weekend. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.

“Earlier this year, we saw travel demand rise and now it’s kicking into high gear for the 4th of July. Despite everything costing more, people are eager to travel and take vacations, after staying close to home during the pandemic,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

AAA Travel Advice

With Independence Day travel expected to be the second-busiest on record, it’s important that travelers plan ahead and be flexible.

“Plan your trip in advance, and have a plan A, B and C. Things can and will change. Flights, accommodations, attractions, rental cars are all in very high demand, and availability is limited. Plus, airlines have ongoing issues with flight cancellations and delays as well as staff shortages. Finding last-minute price reductions is unlikely, so your best bet is to book everything in advance. Utilize memberships such as AAA to find discounts and rewards,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

AAA recommends working with a travel agent and considering travel insurance options. “A travel agent is an expert on the places you’re going and can help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget. And if something goes wrong—from a flight cancellation to a medical emergency—or you need to make last-minute changes, your travel agent becomes your advocate,” says Loofburrow. “Travel agents can help you get the best bang for your travel dollars as they may know of deals and special offers that aren’t readily available to the general public.”

AAA strongly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. Travel insurance provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Travel agents can also advise on what travel insurance policy makes the most sense for your trip.

Visit AAA.com/travel or call (800) 529-3222 to reach a AAA travel agent.

Road Trips: highest on record for Independence Day

Even with gas prices at or near record highs, car travel is expected to set a record this 4th of July as 42 million Americans (88% of travelers) drive to their destinations.

Issues with air travel including flight cancelations and delays and staff shortages may be driving this increase in car travel. In fact, the share of people traveling by air—7.4% of all travelers—will be the lowest since 2011.

“Considering the ongoing challenges with flying, folks feel more comfortable driving because it gives them more control over their trips. Traveling by car provides flexibility and predictability, so it makes sense that most will take a good old American road trip over the 4th of July holiday,” says Dodds.

AAA offers an entire library of digital resources to make your trip more enjoyable and it’s all available in one convenient spot at AAA.com/maps. Digital TourBooks are filled with points of interest and other helpful information. You can download entire books or print the pages you’d like to bring with you. The AAA TripTik Travel Planner provides turn-by-turn directions to keep you on the best route. With the AAA mobile app, you can request emergency road service, book a last-minute hotel, and even find the cheapest fuel and closest EV charging stations along the way.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

Air travel sees uptick; travel by other modes also rises

This Independence Day will see 3.5 million people taking to the skies, an increase of 1.5% compared to last year and nearing pre-pandemic levels. Volume should surpass that in 2017 but will be just below 2018 and 2019 levels. In all, 7.4% of all travelers will be flying. This is the lowest share of travelers since 2011.

Travel by other modes will rise by 168% from 2021, with 2.4 million people (5% of all travelers) using transportation including buses, trains and cruise ships.

Cruise lines are sailing again this summer. AAA says a travel agent can help advise on cancelation policies, what you can expect on your cruise, and travel insurance options to help protect your health and travel investment before and during your vacation.

2022 Independence Day Holiday Travelers

Total Automobile Air Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2022 (Forecast) 47.9M 42.0M 3.55M 2.42M
2021 (Actual) 46.2M 41.8M 3.50M 900,000
2019 (Actual) 49.0M 41.5M 3.91M 3.54M
Change (2019 to 2022) -2.1% 1.1% -9.3% -31.6%
Change (2021 to 2022) 3.7% 0.4% 1.5% 167.9%
Share of Travelers by Mode (2022)
Automobile Air Other
88% 7% 5%

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

Tips for those flying this Independence Day: 

  • Check your airline’s website or download their app to keep up-to-date on your flight status, including checking one last time right before you leave for the airport
  • Check in online for flights 24 hours ahead
  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international. Security lines may be longer than usual due to potential staffing issues and the increase in travelers.
  • Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times. In general, early morning flights tend to have fewer delays and cancellations than flights later in the day. Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, Friday, July 1 will be the busiest air travel day and Monday, July 4 will be the lightest.
  • Sign up for TSA PreCheck before your trip. However, even these expedited security check-in lanes will be busier than usual.
  • Bring all medications in your carry-on bag, as well as snacks and a change of clothes. That way you’ll have provisions if your checked bag gets lost or delayed.
  • Not all airport vendors and restaurants are fully operational so plan ahead for meals and snacks. Some airlines let you pre-order food for your flight.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

Top Independence Day Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and warm weather destinations are the most popular domestically and abroad, based on searches and bookings by members of AAA Oregon/Idaho:

2022 Top Independence Day Destinations
U.S Destinations International Destinations
Orlando, FL Vancouver, BC, Canada
Las Vegas, NV Paris, France
Anaheim, CA London, England
Seattle, WA Rome, Italy
Maui, HI Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ft. Lauderdale, FL Dublin, Ireland
Salt Lake City, UT Calgary, AB, Canada
Honolulu, HI Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Denver, CO Cancun, Mexico
Anchorage, AK San Jose, Costa Rica

Other favorite regional destinations for Independence Day include the Oregon coast, central Oregon, Crater Lake, Redding, CA, Sacramento, CA and the Bay area.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

Thursday and Friday are busiest times on the roads

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be two to three times longer than normal at times, especially in urban areas. Busiest travel times will be the afternoons of Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

Here are the daily worst and best times to travel:

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
Day Worst Time Best Time
Thursday 2:00-8:00 PM Before 7:00 AM / After 8:00 PM
Friday 12:00-9:00 PM Before 10:00 AM / After 9:00 PM
Saturday 2:00-4:00 PM Before 12:00 PM / After 7:00 PM
Sunday Low congestion expected all day
Monday Low congestion expected all day
Tuesday 12:00 PM-6:00 PM Before 12:00 PM / After 6:00 PM
Source: INRIX

“With a record number of folks going by car, expect crowded roads and longer-than-normal travel times. Drivers in urban areas can expect even longer delays. Knowing when and where congestion is can help you avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Your best bet is to avoid urban areas during the peak driving times,” says Dodds.

Hotels, airfare cost more, rental cars cost less this year  

Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare for U.S. destinations is 14% more than last year coming in at $201 per ticket. Friday, July 1 is the busiest and most expensive day for air travel over the holiday weekend, Saturday is the cheapest, and Monday, July 4 is the lightest day.

Hotels—AAA two-diamond properties are up 27% with an average nightly rate of $198. AAA three-diamond properties average $244 per night, up 23% over last year.

Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 34% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $110 per day compared to $166 per day last year. This is due to the easing of rental car inventory shortages we saw in 2021.

Gas prices near record highs

Drivers are paying the most expensive pump prices ever for the Independence Day holiday. The national and Oregon averages remain near record highs.

The national average is currently $4.93 and the Oregon average is $5.51 (as of June 24, 2022). These prices are about $2 a gallon more than a year ago. Find current gas prices at https://gasprices.aaa.com/

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

AAA says the historically high gas prices aren’t expected to put a dent in travel. “The expensive pump prices are definitely impacting people’s budgets, but travelers aren’t cancelling their trips. Instead, they’re looking at other ways to save money, such as limiting restaurant meals and/or eating at moderately priced restaurants, cutting back on shopping, and looking for free or low-cost activities,” says Dodds. “Travelers may also consider shortening the duration of trips or picking destinations that are closer to home.”

Use the AAA Mobile App (AAA.com/mobile) to help you find the least expensive gas in your area. You can also find the closest EV charging stations. AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Save 30 cents per gallon on your first fill-up at Shell when you join by Dec. 31, 2023, and after that, save 5¢ a gallon every day on each individual fill-up of up to 20 gallons from participating Shell stations. Join now at AAA.com/Shell.

Find more fuel saving tips here.

Independence Day Travel Forecast 2021

AAA to the rescue this Independence Day weekend

AAA expects to respond to more than 446,000 calls for roadside assistance nationally and 8,000 in Oregon this Independence Day weekend, with the most common issues being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.

AAA makes it easy to request assistance—by phone or text (1-800-AAA-HELP), app or online—and members can track the service technician’s progress as they make their way to your vehicle.

Make sure your car is road-trip ready. Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, and well-stocked emergency kit including a flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, jackets and blankets, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets. Bring extra masks and cleaning supplies, including hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Share your itinerary with family or friends so that authorities know where to start looking for you if you don’t reach your destination.

Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here.

Forecast methodology

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence, a world-leading provider of financial information and solutions, developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’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 prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence 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.

AAA Independence Day Travel Forecast 2022

Independence Day Travel Forecast 2021

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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Find local news releases at https://oregon.aaa.com/community/media/media-contacts.html

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA GAS PRICES. For more info go WWW.AAA.COM.  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 850,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 62 million motorists in North America.