Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Fourth of July travel expected to hit records

Photo by Jimmy Dominico/Pixabay • Travel throughout the Volunteer State is expected to set records for the Fourth of July holiday. Pictured is the Nashville skyline. 

From Staff Reports

Independence Day will be the busiest on record in Tennessee, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards with no sign of slowing down. AAA predicts more than a million Tennesseans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4). That’s 3% more people on the road than last year’s holiday, and is likely to set a new travel record in Tennessee for Independence Day.

“The volume of travelers expected over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.”

While all modes of transportation are forecast to be stronger than last year, the biggest surprise is auto travel. Despite record high gas prices, AAA forecasts over 945,000 Tennesseans will take a holiday road trip – the most on record, dating back to 2001.

Although air travel is forecast to be nearly 2% stronger than last year, domestic traveler volumes are expected to remain just slightly below pre-pandemic levels. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancelations and delays are likely the catalyst.

“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” continued Haas. “But not all destinations are within driving distance, which doesn’t mean you have to abandon your vacation plans. The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancelation. They are your best advocate.”

Nationwide Travel Volumes

Nationwide, travel volumes follow similar trends. AAA forecasts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend. This is an increase of 3.7% over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. Nationally, auto travel is also forecast to set new records.

Travel prices higher than last year

Air — AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 14% more than last year coming in at $201/ticket.

Hotels — Mid-range hotel rates are about 23% more than last year, with the average lowest nightly rates coming in at $244/night for AAA Approved Hotels.

Gas Prices — Independence Day gas prices are forecast to be the most expensive for the holiday in history. Pump prices are about 60% more expensive than a year ago. On Monday, the state average was $4.59. During recent years, the state average on July 4th was $2.88 (2021) and $1.94 (2019).

Car Rentals — Since last year, the average daily rate for car rentals have continued to increase. With more people traveling, these prices remain on the rise due to continued supply chain issues coupled with growing demand. While daily car rental rates have decreased 34% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $110/day, rates are $40 more/day on average than in 2019.

This summer, travel stress-free

With crowded roads and busy airports, AAA wants to help prepare travelers so they can have a stress-free July 4th celebration. It is important travelers are prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the holiday. AAA offers the following advice:

Have a plan A, B and C. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability may be limited, which will impact pricing. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely so it’s recommended to look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel agents are a great resource since they may know of a deal that may not be readily available to the public.

B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip

AAA expects to respond to over 446,000 calls for roadside assistance over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Make sure to get a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip but especially for components like a vehicle’s battery, engine and tires. Heat drains car batteries, so summer is a time of unexpected dead batteries. AAA will bring a battery to members in need, and provide discounts on the purchase price. Even a vehicle in top shape can run into an issue so it’s a good idea to pack a well-stocked emergency kit and have roadside assistance just in case.

Avoid the rush. Travel on off-peak times or days or pick a hidden gem closer to home. Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4) with Monday, July 4 being the lightest. For those hitting the road, the Thursday and Friday before the holiday are anticipated to be peak traffic days.  If you’re flying, plan to arrive several hours early at the airport.

Travel Bookings are up 60%; Here are the Top Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and international classics are top destinations this Independence Day. AAA data shows that bookings for air, car rentals, cruise, hotel, and tours are up 60% over last year for the top domestic Independence Day destinations and up 252% for international.

Road Trips are King this Independence Day

Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

“Even with gas hitting record prices, travelers are still eager to hit the road this summer. We expect nationwide travel times to increase about 50% compared to normal. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays,” explained Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. 

For those traveling this Independence Day, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. It’s easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal – kicking off their summer vacation safely.

For purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4. The five-day holiday length is consistent with previous holiday periods.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow the AAA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.