AAA projects a record-breaking 70.9 million travelers will journey 50 miles or more from home over the Independence Day holiday period, marking a 5% increase from 2023 and an 8% rise compared to 2019. For the first time, AAA’s analysis includes travel for the entire week of July 4th, plus the preceding Saturday and the following Sunday.

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. “We anticipate this July 4th week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

Share of Travelers by Mode

AAA expects a record 60.6 million people to travel by car over the Independence Day week, an increase of 2.8 million travelers from last year and surpassing the 55.3 million who traveled by car in 2019. Hertz, AAA’s car rental partner, indicates high rental demand in cities like Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with the busiest pick-up days expected to be June 28, June 29, and July 3.

Gas prices, currently lower than last year’s national average of $3.53, are predicted to decrease leading up to Independence Day, remaining stable until after Labor Day unless hurricane season disrupts Gulf Coast oil production.

Air travel is also set to hit new highs, with 5.74 million people flying to their destinations, a 7% increase from last year and a 12% rise from 2019. AAA advises travelers to arrive at airports early, reserve parking in advance, and opt for carry-on luggage to save time and money. Domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this year, averaging $800 for a roundtrip ticket.

Other transportation modes, including buses, cruises, and trains, will see 4.6 million travelers, a 9% increase from last year, although still below the 2019 figure of 4.79 million. Cruises are making a notable comeback, with Alaska cruises in high demand, making Seattle and Anchorage top domestic destinations.

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

According to INRIX, a provider of transportation data, the worst times to travel by car are between 2 PM and 7 PM before and on July 4th. Travelers are advised to hit the road in the morning and avoid rush hour traffic when returning on July 8th.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on July 3rd and July 7th,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal. Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions.”

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

Date Worst Travel Time Best Travel Time
Monday, Jul 1 Minimal Traffic Impact Expected
Tuesday, Jul 2 2:00 – 6:00 PM After 7:00 PM
Wednesday, Jul 3 2:00 – 7:00 PM Before Noon
Thursday, Jul 4 2:00 – 7:00 PM Before Noon
Friday, Jul 5 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM Before 10:00 AM
Saturday, Jul 6 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM Before 10:00 AM
Sunday, Jul 7 2:00 – 8:00 PM Before 11:00 AM
Monday, Jul 8 1:00 – 5:00 PM After 7:00 PM

With an increase in travel and potential congestion, travelers are encouraged to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and enjoyable holiday experience.