July 4 weekend travel numbers expected to rise this year, Orlando is a top destination, AAA says

ORLANDO, Fla. — Independence Day is fast approaching and despite historically high gas prices, Americans are set to hit the road this Fourth of July weekend.

This Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, with AAA predicting that 2.6 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend.

That’s 4% more than last year’s holiday and just shy of the numbers seen in 2019.


“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.”

Planes, trains and automobile travel are expected to see increased travel numbers, with auto travel being the biggest surprise.

Despite record-high gas prices, AAA forecasts 2.3 million Floridians will take a holiday road trip this Fourth of July, the most on record, dating back to 2001.

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When it comes to air travel, domestic numbers are predicted to be 2% stronger than last year, but are expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” Haas added. “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.”

Nationally, AAA forecasts that 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.

Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel and Monday, July 4 is forecast to be the lightest.

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Thursday and Friday before the holiday are anticipated to be peak traffic days on the road.

Drivers should expect Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 to be the days with the longest travel delays on the road.

“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,” says Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst with INRIX. “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.”

According to AAA, 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 per ticket.

· Hotels: Mid-range hotel rates are about 23% more than last year, with the average lowest nightly rates coming in at $244 per night for AAA approved hotels.

· Gas prices: Florida gas prices are 64% more expensive than last year.

· Car rentals: The average lowest daily car rental rate is $110 per day. While 34% lower than last year, daily car rental rates are $40 per day more than in 2019.

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When it comes to top travel destinations, AAA booking data shows that big cities and international classics are top destinations this Independence Day.

Orlando is a top destination when it comes to domestic travel.

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