Holiday traffic expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels, AAA survey says

National News
busy highway traffic at sunset time _1554402064812

Nearly 48 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s according to a new AAA survey released today.

In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 3 percent fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019.

By comparison, only 32 million Americans traveled during the 2020 COVID-19 year.

According to AAA, while all modes of travel will see increased demand this Independence Day, road trips continue to dominate this summer. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, more than 91 percent of holiday travel will be by car. An expected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019.

With 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this Independence Day will reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other transportation modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72 percent compared to last year, but 83 percent lower than in 2019. This includes travel by bus, train and cruises.

2021 Independence Day Holiday Travelers
 Total Automobile AirOther (Bus, Train, Cruise) 
2021 (Forecast)47.7M43.6M3.5M620,000
2020 (Actual)34.2M32.5M1.3M359,000
2019 (Actual)48.9M41.5M3.9M3.5M
 Change (2019 to 2021) -2.5%+5.1%-10.3%-82.5%
Change (2020 to 2021) +39.6% +34.1% +163.8% +72.7%

The top travel destinations this year, based on AAA Travel advance air and tour booking for July 1-5, 2021:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Anaheim, Calif.
  3. Denver
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Seattle
  6. Chicago
  7. New York
  8. Atlanta
  9. Boston
  10. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

Travelers can expect to find higher prices for hotels and car rentals as demand climbs. Mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32 and 35 percent, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

Daily car rental rates have increased 86 percent compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers.

And travelers are looking at gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014, with the national average just above the $3 mark.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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