50.7 million Americans including 587,000 Oregonians to travel for Independence Day

PORTLAND, Ore., – AAA expects record-breaking travel for the Independence Day holiday, surpassing the previous record set in 2019. AAA projects 50.7 million Americans (15.1% of the population) including 587,000 Oregonians will take a trip a trip 50 miles or more from home. This is 4.3% higher than last year and 3.7% higher than in 2019. In all, 2.1 million more people will travel for the holiday compared to last year.  

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

The number of Americans traveling by car and air over the holiday are projected to be the highest on record. AAA expects 43.2 million people including 460,000 Oregonians will drive to their destinations. For air travel, AAA projects 4.17 million Americans including 84,000 Oregonians will fly to their destinations. Find more details and tips for travelers below.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.4 million people (13.9% of the population) are expected to travel, a 4.7% increase compared to 2022. In Oregon, about 587,000 will travel over the long weekend. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4.

“This year will set records with Americans eager to travel for fireworks and fun this Independence Day. Despite some higher prices and limited availability, travel volumes will be higher than ever before. Many took our advice and booked their trips early, another sign of very robust travel this summer,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho.

2023 Independence Day travel forecast
2023 Independence Day travel forecast

AAA Travel Advice

With AAA projecting record travel for Independence Day, it’s important that travelers plan ahead and be flexible.

“Plan your trip in advance and expect the unexpected. Things can and will change. Flights, accommodations, attractions, rental cars are all in very high demand, and availability is limited. Airlines continue to have issues with flight cancellations and delays as well as pilot and staff shortages. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely, so book everything as early as possible. Use your AAA membership to find discounts and rewards, work with a travel agent, and consider travel insurance as well as medical travel insurance,” 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 a travel expert 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 most out of your travel dollars as they know of special offers and rates that aren’t always 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. Medical travel insurance can provide coverage for illness and injuries and that may not be included in your regular health insurance plan. Travel agents can also advise on what travel insurance policy makes the most sense for your trip.

AAA data shows demand for travel insurance is up more than 100% over last year, as more travelers now see the need to prepare for the unexpected.

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

Road Trips: highest on record for Independence Day

Car travel is expected to set a record this 4th of July as 43.2 million Americans (85.2% of travelers) drive to their destinations. This is an increase of one million car travelers over last year, up 2.4% over 2022, and 4% higher than 2019.

In Oregon, more than 460,000 will drive to their Independence Day destinations.

“Most travelers will take a good old American road trip over the 4th of July holiday. Traveling by car tends to provide the greatest flexibility and predictability, and can often be cheaper than traveling by other modes.” 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/TripCanvas.  If you are looking for maps or our Digital TourBooks, visit AAA.com/maps. 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. Download it at AAA.com/mobile or visit the App Store or Google Play.

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

Air travel also expected to set a new record; travel by other modes also rises

This Independence Day will see 4.17 million people taking to the skies, an increase of 11.2% compared to last year and 6.6% over 2019. The previous July 4th weekend air travel record of 3.91 million travelers was set in 2019.

The share of air travelers in the overall holiday forecast this year is an impressive 8.2% – the highest percentage in nearly 20 years.

In Oregon, approximately 84,000 will fly to their Independence Day destinations.

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

Travel by other modes will rise by 24% from 2022, with 3.36 million people (6.6% of all travelers) using transportation including buses, trains and cruise ships. While more travelers are turning to these modes this year, the number is not expected to surpass 2019’s total of 3.54 million.

Approximately 42,000 Oregonians will travel by other modes.

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

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, Saturday, July 1 is expected to be the busiest air travel day and Monday, July 3 will be the least busy. 
  • Sign up for TSA PreCheck before your trip. However, even these expedited security check-in lanes will be busier than usual.
  • Avoid checking a bag if possible. 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.
  • Plan ahead for meals and snacks. Most airlines have limited meal offerings. Some airlines let you pre-order food for your flight.

Top Independence Day Destinations

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

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

Other favorite regional destinations for Independence Day include the Oregon coast (especially Lincoln City and Newport), central Oregon, Portland, Medford/Ashland, Crater Lake, Pendleton, Boise, and Sacramento, CA.

International travel demand is booming and so are passport applications. The U.S. State Department says it’s processing half a million applications a week. Routine service is averaging 10 to 13 weeks.

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 29 and Friday, June 30 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

Here are the daily worst and best times to travel:

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

“With a record number of folks heading out on a holiday road trip, expect lots of traffic 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 stop-and-go traffic. But whenever you go, it’ll probably take longer than usual to get to your destination,” says Dodds.

Here are projected travel times out of Portland from INRIX:

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

Airfare, hotels cost more, rental cars cost less this year  

Air—AAA finds that travelers are paying 40% to 50% more for flights compared to last year, but AAA data shows bookings aren’t slowing down. Many airlines are responding to demand by hiring more staff and taking smaller regional planes out of service and replacing them with larger ones to increase capacity. However, there are still challenges, including a shortage of air traffic controllers that has led to reduced service in and out of New York City area airports.

Saturday, July 1 is the busiest and most expensive day for air travel over the holiday weekend, while Monday, July 3 is likely the cheapest and least-busy day to fly. However, airports will be busy through the holiday travel period because of the record number of air travelers.

Hotels—AAA finds hotel prices are up slightly over 2022. While the number of domestic hotel bookings is about the same as last year, AAA data shows international hotel bookings are up 80% compared to 2022.

Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 18% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $90 per day compared to $110 per day last year. This is due to an increase in rental car inventories after the pandemic with newer models and electric vehicles added to fleets.

Demand for international rental cars is up more than 80% compared to 2022.

  • AAA Travel Tip: If you’re planning to drive abroad, keep in mind some countries require International Driving Permits. AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the State Department to issue IDPs. This year, AAA reports demand for IDPs is double what it was in 2022.

Gas prices significantly less than last year

Drivers are paying about a dollar a gallon less than last year when pump prices were at or near record highs. The national average is currently $3.54 and the Oregon average is $4.64 (as of July 3, 2023). Find current gas prices here: https://gasprices.aaa.com/

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

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 at least 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.

AAA to the rescue this Independence Day weekend

AAA expects to respond to about 400,000 calls for roadside assistance nationally and 8,000 in Oregon this Independence Day weekend, with the most common issues being dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts. 

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.

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.

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 15, 2023.

2023 Independence Day travel forecast

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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 890,000 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.