July 4th travel expected to set new record; 43.6 million to hit the highway

Updated Jun 29, 2021
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Be prepared to share the highway with even more other motorists than normal during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

AAA's forecast says 47.7 million Americans are planning to celebrate Independence Day with some sort of travel. It appears the highest gas prices in seven years is no deterrent for motorists as fully 43.6 million of them plan to drive to their holiday destinations. That's 5% more than in 2019, which was the old record. 

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

The destinations for many travelers include theme parks in Florida and California, as well major metropolitan areas including Denver, Chicago, and Seattle.

Top Independence Day travel destinations include:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Seattle, Washington
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. New York, New York
  8. Atlanta, Georgia
  9. Boston, Massachussetts
  10. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, along with the return trip on Monday mid-day. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see nearly double the delays versus typical drive times, with drivers in Boston and San Francisco likely to experience nearly three times the delays.

“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delay,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst, 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, along with Monday mid-day.”