It doesn’t appear high gas prices will be keeping many folks home this summer.
AAA is predicts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4). It’s an increase of 3.7% over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. The biggest surprise – car travel – will set a new record despite historically high gas prices with 42 million people hitting the road.
“The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”
Car travel volume, even with national average gas prices going over the $5 mark, will break previous records as 42 million opt to drive this Independence Day. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancelations and delays may be driving this increase. In fact, the share of people traveling by air will be the lowest since 2011.
“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” Twidale said. “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.”
Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards with no sign of slowing down, according to AAA.
Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.
“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,” said 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.”