12:45 PM

Forecast: 786K Coloradans Will Travel for Independence Day

Car travel expected to set record despite historically high gas prices.

Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000 as travel volumes continue to trend upwards - with no sign of slowing down. That's the latest from AAA's new travel forecast, which found that 786,000 Coloradans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend (June 30 - July 4). They'll join the ranks of 47.9 million Americans, up 4% over last year and just shy of numbers last seen in 2019. 

"Despite high and rising prices on just about everything, we're seeing consistent increases in travel demand," said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA. "It seems that with so much going in on the world, Coloradans have decided they're due a vacation - and this is the year they're finally taking it."

Gains in Every Travel Category

All told, 660,000 Coloradans will take to the roads over the holiday period, with 72,000 traveling by air and 54,000 traveling by cruise ship, bus, train, and other transportation modes. 

Nationwide, 42 million Americans will be traveling by car - joined by 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies and 2.42 million Americans taking advantage of other travel options. That marks a new record for automobile travel, a 1.5% gain over last year in air travel, and a staggering 167.9% growth in travel by other modes as overall travel confidence reaches its highest point since the pandemic began. 

Still, air travel volumes will remain well below pre-pandemic levels, with high costs and persistent concerns about cancellations and delays the likely catalysts for the increase in automobile travel, which is up 0.4% from last year and 1.1% from 2019. 

Travel Prices are Higher than Last Year

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

Hotels - Mid-range hotel rates are about 23% more than last year, with the average lowest nightly rates coming in at $244 a 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 41% more expensive than a year ago. On Tuesday, Colorado's average was $4.88. That's compared to $2.71 in 2019 and $3.45 in 2021.

Car Rentals - Car rental rates rose steadily since the outset of the pandemic 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 per day, rates are $40 more per day on average than in 2019. 

Travel Bookings are up 60%

AAA booking data reveal that big cities and international classics are top destinations this Independence Day. Bookings for air, car rentals, cruises, hotels and tours are up 60% over last year for the top domestic Independence Day destinations and up 252% for international. 

Top U.S. Destinations:
• Orlando, FL
• Seattle, WA
• New York, NY
• Anaheim, CA
• Anchorage, AK
• Ft. Lauderdale, FL
• Las Vegas, NV
• Honolulu, HI
• Denver, CO
• Chicago, IL

Top International Destinations
• Vancouver, BC, Canada
• Paris, France
• London, England
• Rome, Italy
• Amsterdam, Netherlands
• Dublin, Ireland
• Calgary, AB, Canada
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
• Cancun, Mexico
• Nassau, Bahamas

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," McKinley said. "Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon." 

Tips to Travel Stress Free

With crowded roads and busy airports, travelers should be prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the holiday.

• 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 tends to be the time for unexpected jump starts. 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. 

Remember - Be Kind and Patient
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.  

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/Monitor. The PERFORMANCE/Monitor 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 S&P Global Market Intelligence 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 23, 2022. Colorado travel figures were prepared on July 27, 2022. 
Independence Day Holiday Travel Period 
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.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

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 64 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, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.