FRAMINGHAM – A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day holiday, an increase of more than 5 percent compared with last year and the highest number at any point since 2001.
For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as the normal trip, with “Terrible Tuesday” being the busiest day.
“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs, in a press release.“Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”
In addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is boosted by Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday.
By the Numbers: 2018 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast
- Of the 49.9 million travelers, a record 1.25 million will come from Massachusetts.
- The vast majority of travelers – 39.7 million – will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year. For only the second time ever, travelers by car from Massachusetts will top the 1 million mark, approaching 1.1 million.
- A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by air, a 7.9 percent increase and the ninth consecutive year of air travel volume increases.
- A total of 3.5 million passengers will travel by trains, buses and cruise ships, up 5.8 percent over 2017.
INRIX, a global transportation analytics company working with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion over the holiday week on Tuesday, July 3 in the late afternoon – as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
Travel times could increase two-fold in the major metros across the country, with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC experiencing the most significant delays.
In Boston, for example, estimates are that Tuesday between 3:30-6:30 pm, travel will be 1.8 times longer than usual.
Theme Parks and Europe are Major Draws
This Independence Day, travelers will flock to theme parks in Orlando and southern California, while many others are heading west. Alaska cruises departing from Seattle, Anchorage and Vancouver round out the top five U.S. travel destinations for the holiday. For those venturing overseas, Europe is a major draw, with Rome, London, Dublin and Paris all making the list of top international destinations for the holiday.
AAA to Rescue More Than 362,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside around the Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
AAA travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Makrit.
AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.