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4.5 Million Floridians Will Travel During July 4th Week

June 27, 2024

AAA projects Independence Day travelers will set new records both nationwide and in Florida. More than 70.9 million people around the U.S. are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home. Nearly 4.5 million of those will be Floridians.

“The summer travel season is off to a hot start and we expect to set new travel records on the road and in the sky during the week of Independence Day,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “There will be 3.5 million more travelers than last year. That means even more people at airports and popular attractions like beaches, lakes, and theme parks.”

Independence Day Holiday Travel Period

AAA’s Independence Day travel forecast measures domestic trips of 50 miles or more during a 9-day period from Saturday, June 29th to Sunday, July 7th.

Economic Trends Influencing the Travel Forecast

Despite concerns about inflation, total travel is increasing on growth in consumer confidence, wages, and continued strength in consumer spending.

• Consumers are expected to increase spending by 5.5% compared to a year ago.
• Real GDP growth will remain modest, rising by 2.5% from last year.
• After falling steadily since January, consumer confidence moved up in May.
• Gas prices for May averaged $3.62, $0.07 higher than a year ago. So far, June gas prices averaged $3.32 per gallon, $0.09 less than the same period last year.

Road Travel

AAA projects a record 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week – that’s an additional 2.8 million travelers compared to last year. This year’s number also surpasses 2019 when 55.3 million people traveled by car over July 4th week.

Meanwhile, road travel in Florida will set a record for the second consecutive year. More than 3.9 million Floridians are expected to take a road trip. That’s 183,000 more than last year.

“Road travelers should prepare for congestion in the afternoon and evening hours, particularly near larger metro areas, theme parks and popular attractions,” said Mark Jenkins, Spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With so many people on the road it’s important to be patient, minimize distractions while driving, and move over for people on the roadside.”

Gas Prices

Gas prices recently sank to multi-month lows, but rebounded in the past couple of days. On Wednesday, Florida drivers paid an average price of $3.32 per gallon on gasoline. That's more than what holiday travelers paid last Independence Day, when the state average was $3.26 per gallon. AAA expects prices to remain volatile through the rest of summer travel season, including the lead up to Independence Day.

Air Travel

The number of domestic air travelers is also expected to set a record. Nationally, AAA projects 5.74 million people will fly to their July 4th destinations. That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to last year and a 12% increase over 2019.

AAA booking data shows domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year, and the average price for a domestic roundtrip ticket is $800. Airports will be packed throughout the week. AAA recommends arriving 2 hours early, reserving parking ahead of time, and traveling with carry-on luggage versus checked bags to save time and money.

Other Modes of Transportation

More than 4.6 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains. This category is seeing an increase of 9% compared to last year, but this year’s number is shy of 2019’s figure of 4.79 million.

“Cruising continues experiencing remarkable growth,” Haas said. “This time of year, Alaska cruises are in high demand, making Seattle and Anchorage top domestic destinations. Cruise travelers are also finding deals this summer. With new ships coming onto the market – and going for a premium – working with a Travel Advisor is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best value for your vacation. Travel Advisors are also able to help you choose a travel insurance policy that protects you and your investment for the impact of unexpected events before and during your trip.”

Best and Worst Times to Drive and Peak Congestion

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says the worst times to travel by car before and on July 4th are between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Drivers should hit the road in the morning, and travelers returning on Monday, July 8th should avoid rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3rd, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7th, as they return,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal. Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions.”

Top Destinations

This July 4th week, travelers are cooling off in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska – and by the ocean! Seattle, Vancouver, and Anchorage are top destinations because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Beaches in South Florida, Honolulu, Punta Cana, and Barcelona are in high demand. Historical sites in European cities like London, Rome, Dublin, Paris, and Athens are also popular. The top 10 domestic and international destinations below are based on AAA booking data.

Family Road Trip Checklist

With road trips expected to set a new record this July 4th week, AAA teamed up with Chicco to share safety tips for families with small children.

Check car seat fit. Before you hit the road, check your child’s weight and height to ensure they’re in the right seat and mode of use – especially when it comes to transitioning from rear to forward-facing. Children should remain rear-facing as long as possible for better protection of their head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash. If you are unsure which car seat is best for your child, Chicco offers a car seat comparison guide.

Double check car seat installation. Even if your car seat is already installed in the car, it’s worth checking everything is safe and secure. An easy at-home way to do this is with the “inch test.” Simply grab the seat at the car seat belt path and pull side to side and front to back. If it moves more than one inch in any direction, uninstall and start over until a secure fit is achieved. For any questions, utilize the car seat manual, QR codes, or online resources like those offered by Chicco.

Secure loose items in the car. Take time to organize and clean up your car before hitting the road. Storage organizers that secure to the back of the driver and passenger seats are simple solutions to make sure everything has a spot, especially loose items that can become projectiles in case of a sudden stop.

Be prepared for the unexpected. Pack an emergency kit with first-aid supplies, water, snacks, blankets, jumper cables, and flares. Make sure your phone is fully charged - and keep a charger in the car – to call AAA or request roadside assistance digitally if your battery dies, you lock yourself out, or you need a tow.

Map your route. Families with young children should plan for frequent and longer stops along the way. Map out your route ahead of time with AAA TripTik and browse hotels, restaurants, and other activities along the way on AAA Trip Canvas.

Bring entertainment. Make sure to place toys and books within reach to keep children entertained. If your kids use tablets or other electronics, make sure the devices are fully charged and pre-downloaded before leaving home. Another fun way to get the whole family excited for the road trip is to create a family playlist of everyone’s favorite songs! You can create your Triptik at: https://triptik.aaa.com/home/

Holiday Forecast Methodology

For this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the nine-day period from Saturday, June 29th to Sunday, July 7th. Historically, the Independence Day holiday period included only one weekend. This is the first year the Independence Day holiday travel period is a longer time frame with two weekends included. So if you are driving make sure to be prepared for summer rains along your route, check your tire pressure and change your wipers.

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 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: www.AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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