Independence Day Holiday Travel to Hit All-Time High

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If you are planning to drive more than 50 miles from home over the July 4th holiday, you will have a lot of company. AAA projects that 50.7 million Americans expect to hit the road, the rails or the sky for the long weekend. In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the previous record of 49 million Americans were traveling. (These are the 25 worst American cities to drive in.)

Driving trips make up 85% of Americans’ travel plans. That is 43.2 million travelers on the nation’s highways. Gasoline prices are down by around $1.25 per gallon compared to last year, when some 42.2 million Americans wandered more than 50 miles from home, and 4% more than the 41.5 million who ventured out in 2019.

Airports are expected to be busier than ever. AAA projects a record 4.17 million Americans will fly to their destinations despite an 11.2% year-over-year increase in ticket prices and a 6.6% hike compared to 2019 prices. Nearly 3.4 million U.S. travelers will take a train or bus to their chosen vacation spot.

The best times to begin your trip if you live in a major metropolitan area will be before noon on Thursday, June 29, before 10:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Friday, June 30, before noon Saturday, July 1, and before 11:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on July 4.

AAA and INRIX, a transportation data firm, have also forecast peak congestion hours for some popular routes. For example, from Boston to Hyannis via the Pilgrim Highway will experience peak congestion on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. and take more than 6 hours (63% more time than usual). Peak congestion will affect travelers from Houston to Galveston at the same time and add 52% to driving times. The full list is available on the AAA website.

While airfare is up sharply, hotel prices have increased only slightly. Car rental shortages common during the pandemic have increased, and rental prices are down slightly year over year. Cruise ships are having a banner year thanks to pent-up demand and modest price increases.

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