AAA: July 4th travel expected to reach pre-pandemic levels

Travel expected to increase 40% from last year
Posted at 5:42 AM, Jun 22, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Independence Day weekend could be the first holiday in over a year to see pre-pandemic levels of travel.

"All indications now point to a busy Independence Day."
Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel

According to AAA, more than 47.7 million Americans are expected to drive or fly to a holiday destination over the course of the weekend. AAA says that would make it the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record and would see a 40% jump in travel from 2020 when about 34.2 million Americans took July 4th trips.

AAA: July 4th travel to reach pre-pandemic levels
AAA: July 4th travel to reach pre-pandemic levels

The high travel volumes are expected in spite of soaring gas and oil prices.

Of the nearly 48 million Americans who are expected to travel for the weekend, an anticipated 43.6 million will take road trips. About 3.5 million people will fly to their destinations.

The table below shows how July 4th travel this year will compare to the previous two years:

July 4th travel comparison 2019-2021.

“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.”

Where are people going this year?

According to AAA Travel booking data, theme parks in Florida and southern California are the top destinations for people to travel this year.

In fact, the top cities for flight and tour bookings for July 1-5 include:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Anaheim, CA
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Chicago, IL
  7. New York, NY
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Kahului, Maui, HI

But if you are planning on driving to your destination, AAA says you can expect delays on the road due to the high volume of road trippers expected this year.

“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend," said transportation analyst Bob Pishue 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, along with Monday mid-day.”