The American Automobile Association (AAA) is forecast this week that a record-setting 49 million Americans are planning an Independence Day getaway this year.
Overall travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1% over last year, with an additional 1.9 million people planning road trips and other vacations to celebrate America's birthday. For the record-high 41.4 million Americans who will travel by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with Wednesday, July 3 the worst day on the roads.
In addition to lower gas prices compared with last summer, broader economic fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, robust consumer spending, and rising disposable incomes are all encouraging more consumers to invest their hard-earned money in travel this summer.
"As Independence Day approaches, it's time for the much loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations," said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. "This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel."
Top Independence Day travel destinations
Fun-in-the-sun locales like Orlando and Honolulu lead the top 10 the list of popular destinations for American travelers this Independence Day, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:
1. Orlando, Florida 2. Honolulu, Hawaii 3. Seattle, Washington 4. Las Vegas, Nevada 5. Anaheim, California 6. New York, New York 7. Boston, Massachusetts 8. Maui, Hawaii 9. Anchorage, Alaska 10. Chicago, Illinois
For those travelers planning an international vacation, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular spots for international vacations this Independence Day, with Vancouver, Canada -- a top departure port for Alaskan cruises -- rounding out the top five.
Independence Day holiday travel, by mode
Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers - 41.4 million - will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 4.3% more than last year.
Planes: 3.96 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record and 5.3% more than last year.
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 0.6% to 3.55 million passengers.
Record-level drivers equals record-level delays
For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9%.
"With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros," said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. "Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, hands down, Wednesday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road."