AAA: Independence Day Travel Boom with Second-Highest Travel Volume on Record

47 Million Americans including 597,000 Oregonians to celebrate 4th of July with a trip

PORTLAND, Ore., – AAA says the travel volume for the 4th of July holiday is back up to pre-pandemic levels with more than 47.7 million Americans (14.4% of the population) including 597,000 Oregonians taking a trip. This will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019.

Independence Day Travel Forecast 2021

Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.5 million people (14% of the population) are expected to travel, a 61% increase compared to 2020. In Oregon, roughly 597,000 will travel over the long weekend. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.

AAA says the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions, increased vaccinations, and lower unemployment are giving more Americans the confidence to travel for some fun and fireworks this year.

“People are eager to travel this summer after staying close to home for the last year-and-a-half. With pandemic restrictions easing and more people getting vaccinated, we saw a strong kick-off to the summer travel season over Memorial Day and that trend continues for Independence Day,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Although many aspects of daily life are returning to normal, the travel landscape has changed and AAA urges all travelers to do their part to help make travel as safe as possible.”

AAA recommends working with a travel agent, who can help if you need to make any last-minute changes to travel plans as well as explore travel insurance options and help you plan a vacation that meets your needs and comfort level this summer. AAA also advises travelers to book your lodging, camping, attractions and rental cars before leaving home.

Although the CDC advises that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, it’s important to keep in mind that some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place. AAA has developed an interactive TripTik map with local and state COVID-19 travel restrictions at AAA.com/Covidmap.  Just click on the destination you’d like to visit for the latest information Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here.

For travelers who are not vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends that you practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested before and after travel. Whether you are vaccinated or not, remember masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Top Independence Day Destinations:

AAA Travel is seeing a boom in online traffic and bookings on AAA.com, particularly for hotels and car rentals, for the summer travel season. Domestic travel and road trips remain the most popular.

Central Oregon and the national parks in Utah and Yellowstone are the most popular destinations for road trips this 4th of July. Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Disneyland are the top destinations for those flying, based on searches and bookings made by members of AAA Oregon/Idaho:

Road Trips:

  1. Central Oregon
  2. Utah National Parks
  3. Yellowstone National Park
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Montana

 AAA Travel Bookings:

  1. Honolulu, HI
  2. Maui, HI
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Anaheim, CA
  5. Cancun, Mexico

 Other favorite regional destinations for Independence Day include the Oregon coast, Crater Lake, and northern California.

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 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.

Road Trips: highest on record for Independence Day

 More than 91% of Independence Day travelers will drive to their destinations as road trips continue to dominate this summer. In all, 43.6 million Americans will go by car, the highest on record for the holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019. This is an increase of 34% over last year.

In Oregon, roughly 512,000 will drive to their Independence Day destinations.

Air Travel sees significant jump; travel by other modes also rises

This Independence Day will see 3.5 million people taking to the skies, an increase of 164% compared to last year. Air travel volumes are at 90% of pre-pandemic levels. AAA reminds air travelers that masks are required in all airports and on flights.

In Oregon, approximately 72,000 will fly to their Independence Day destinations.

Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72% compared to last year, but 83% lower than in 2019. This includes travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising. Cruise lines have announced limited sailings resuming from U.S. ports beginning in late June. For those who make the personal decision to take a cruise, AAA reminds them that 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.

2021 Independence Day Holiday Travelers
Total Automobile Air Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2021 (Forecast) 47.7M 43.6M 3.5M 620,000
2020 (Actual)* 34.2M 32.5M 1.3M 359,000
2019 (Actual) 48.9M 41.5M 3.9M 3.5M
Change (2019 to 2021) −2.5% +5.1% −10.3% −82.5%
Change (2020 to 2021) +39.6% +34.1% +163.8% +72.7%

 

Thursday, Friday and Monday Afternoons 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 in cities as holiday travels mix with commuters. Busiest travel times will be Thursday, Friday and Monday afternoons (July 1, 2 and 5).

Here are the daily worst and best times to travel:

Date Worst Time Best Time
Thursday 3:00 – 5:00PM After 7:00PM
Friday 4:00 – 5:00PM Before 12:00PM
Saturday 11:00AM – 1:00PM After 2:00PM
Sunday Free flow expected
Monday 4:00 – 5:00PM Before 1:00PM
Source: INRIX

“Try to avoid driving in urban areas during the peak times and know that it will likely take extra time to get to your destination. Count on busy roadways and lots of company,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

Higher prices for travelers except airfare

Prices are up for gas, hotels and rental cars as demand climbs but down for air travel this Independence Day.

Mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32% and 35%, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

Daily car rental rates have increased 86% compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers. This production delay has presented a domino effect as rental car companies work to increase their inventory of new vehicles in time to meet the increased demand for domestic road travel.

AAA says average airfares have declined 2% compared to last Independence Day. The average lowest round trip airfare is $175 this year compared to $177 in 2020.

Gas prices most expensive in seven years

Pump prices for the Independence Day holiday will be the most expensive since 2014. Gas prices are almost $1 higher than a year ago, when demand plummeted with much of the country under stay-at-home orders.

The national average is currently $3.07 and the Oregon average is $3.49.

AAA says higher gas prices won’t deter travel. “Expensive pump prices won’t keep people home. Instead, travelers will find other ways to save money, such as staying closer to home, shortening the duration of a trip, limiting restaurant meals and/or eating at moderately priced restaurants, limiting shopping budgets, and looking for free or low-cost activities,” says Dodds.

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 between July 1 and August 31, 2021. Join now at AAA.com/Shell.

Independence Day Travel Forecast 2021

AAA to the rescue this Independence Day weekend

AAA expects to rescue more than 468,000 motorists 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, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets. Bring extra masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies, including 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.

Visit AAA.com/covidmap for an interactive map with the latest travel restrictions and policies for North America. Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. For the purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 through Monday, July 5. When the Fourth of July falls on any day of the week other than a Wednesday, it is considered to be a five-day holiday period. The travel forecast was prepared the week of June 1, 2021.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using 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. For the 2021 Independence Day holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding COVID‑19–related restrictions and activity.

Independence Day Travel Forecast 2021

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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.