PORTLAND, Ore. – AAA projects a record-breaking 48.9 million Americans (14.8 percent of the population) will travel this Independence Day holiday, the highest travel volume for the holiday since AAA started tracking in 2000. That is a 4.1 percent increase over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people taking vacations to celebrate America’s birthday.
The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.
In the Pacific Region, (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.5 million (13.9 percent of the population) are expected to travel, up 4 percent compared to last year. In Oregon, roughly 583,000 people are expected to take an Independence Day getaway.
“The 4th of July is traditionally the busiest travel holiday of the summer as folks enjoy fireworks, family and fun. This is the sixth year in a row we’re seeing a jump in the number of travelers for the holiday,” says AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. “Strong economic fundamentals are driving the travel boom. Consumer optimism and additional disposable income are encouraging people to spend their money on things like travel.”
Road trip! Travel by Car at Record Level
The vast majority of Independence Day travelers will drive to their holiday destinations. Nationally, 85 percent of holiday travelers (41.4 million) will drive to their holiday destinations. That is the most on record and an increase of 4.3 percent compared to last year.
In the Pacific Region, 79 percent of travelers (5.9 million) plan to travel by car, an increase of 4.1 percent.
Top Independence Day Destinations:
While the majority of travelers are planning a Fourth of July road trip, many others will take advantage of the holiday and travel farther from home.
These are the top domestic destinations for AAA Oregon/Idaho this Independence Day weekend, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales:
- Seattle, Washington
- Los Angeles/Anaheim, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- San Diego, California
- Maui, Hawaii
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Orlando, Florida
- New York, New York
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Washington D.C.
“Other top regional destinations for Independence Day include central Oregon, the Oregon coast, Crater Lake, and the San Francisco Bay area,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho.
For travelers planning an international vacation, Europe is the destination of choice, as well as Vancouver, Canada, which is a top departure port for cruises to Alaska. The top international destinations for AAA Oregon/Idaho are:
- Rome, Italy
- London, England
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Dublin, Ireland
- Paris, France
AAA to the rescue
AAA expects to help more than 367,000 motorists nationally and about 5,000 in Oregon over the Independence Day travel period. The big three issues are dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.
AAA says check the condition of your battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway and have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown. Visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance. Members can visit AAA.com/battery to schedule a complimentary battery check.
Gas prices falling heading into Independence Day
Gas prices have been decreasing since Memorial Day weekend and are now less expensive than a year ago. They’re expected to keep moving lower over the next few weeks. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take holiday road trips.
The current national average for regular unleaded is $2.68, and Oregon’s average is $3.23.
Best, worst times to drive
The best times to leave are the early mornings. And travel on the morning of the actual holiday on the 4th of July is usually quieter than other times.
The busiest time on the roadways will be Wednesday afternoon, July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. Peak congestion is expected between about 2 and 6:30 p.m. AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times could be up to four times as long as the normal trip.
“With a record number of road trippers, you can count on lots of company. Pack your patience and give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination,” says Dodds. “And carry that emergency kit in your car, just in case!” Your emergency kit should include jumper cables, flashlight and extra batteries, mobile phone and charger, first aid kit, basic toolkit, and drinking water and non-perishable snacks for all passengers and pets.
Record air travel, air fares up 10 percent
A record-breaking 3.96 million people (8 percent of travelers) will travel by air, a 5.3 percent increase over last year and the 10th consecutive year of growth in air travel for the holiday.
In the Pacific Region, 991,000 (13.2 percent of travelers) will fly to their destinations, an increase of 6 percent compared to 2018. The Pacific Region typically sees a higher share travel by air compared to other regions, and this is the case for this Independence Day. This area is more spread out geographically than other parts of the U.S. so flying can be more convenient for travelers here.
Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes cost 10 percent more than last year. The average ticket is $188 compared to $171 last Independence Day, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 0.6 percent to 3.55 million passengers.
Get to the Airport Early
Airports will be busy over the Independence Day travel period so security lines will likely be longer than usual. Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your domestic flight and three hours before your international flight. Know what you can and cannot bring with you through security by visiting the TSA website. Consider enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry to expedite the security process.
Lodging costs, rental car rates rise
Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs which are trending higher.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotels cost a bit more this year. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $189 per night up from $187 last year, a one percent increase. AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels will average $153 nightly compared to $147 a year ago, a four percent increase.
Daily car rental rates will average $69 up from $66 last year, a 4.5 percent increase.
AAA predicts record Fourth of July holiday travel – KTVZ