20
June
2022
|
17:00 PM
America/Chicago

Independence Day Car Travel to Set New Record Despite High Gas Prices

Overall Travel Volume Nears Pre-Pandemic Level

AAA is projecting car travel will set a new record during the Independence Day holiday despite historically high gas prices. Over the five-day holiday period, 47.9 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home. Of those, 88%, or 42 million people, will take to the roads.

When hitting the roads, travelers will be greeted by the most expensive gas prices for the holiday in history. Pump prices are 62% more expensive than a year ago. Today, the national average is $4.96. The North Dakota average is 21 cents less at $4.75. During recent years, the state average on July 4 was $2.98 (2021), $2.11 (2020), and $2.62 (2019). The previous high was $4.06 in 2008.

"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."

2022 Independence Day Holiday Travelers

Total

Automobile

Air

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2022 (Forecast)

47.9M

42.0M

3.55M

2.42M

2021 (Actual)

46.2M

41.8M

3.50M

900,000

2019 (Actual)

49.0M

41.5M

3.91M

3.54M

Change (2019 to 2022)

-2.1%

1.1%

-9.3%

-31.6%

Change (2021 to 2022)

3.7%

0.4%

1.5%

167.9%

Share of Travelers by Mode (2022)

Automobile

Air

Other

88%

7%

5%

Although air travel is forecast to increase 1.5%, domestic traveler volumes are expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Higher costs, combined with concerns over cancelations and delays are likely providing headwinds.

"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."

Higher Prices

  • 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.
  • 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.

Travel Stress-Free

With crowded roads and busy airports, AAA wants to help prepare travelers so they can have a stress-free celebration. It's important to be 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 Up

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.

2022 Top Independence Day Destinations

U.S Destinations

International Destinations

Orlando, FL

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Seattle, WA

Paris, France

New York, NY

London, England

Anaheim, CA

Rome, Italy

Anchorage, AK

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Dublin, Ireland

Las Vegas, NV

Calgary, AB, Canada

Honolulu, HI

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Denver, CO

Cancun, Mexico

Chicago, IL

Nassau, Bahamas

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.

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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 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.

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 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 us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.