AAA Projects July 4th Holiday Travel Decrease This Year

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AAA Travel projects 40.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 41.1 million people who traveled last year. The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominantly due to a shorter holiday period. Independence Day lands on a Thursday this year, returning to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.

Click here to view the full Independence Day AAA Travel Forecast

“Nearly 41 million Americans plan to travel during the Independence Day holiday weekend. Although the travel numbers are about the same as last year’s, numerous surveys show more people plan to vacation this summer than last. It may just be that they are taking their trips at other times throughout the summer,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. “The Independence Day holiday tends to be the busiest summer holiday with more travelers than Memorial Day or Labor Day. About six million more people are expected to travel during the upcoming holiday, than this past Memorial Day weekend." 

National & State Numbers Auto Travel Air Travel Other Travel  Total Projected Travelers
Florida 1.7 million      149,530 125,169 2 million   
Georgia 963,435 82,921 69,412 1.1 million
Tennessee 723,973 34,723 38,185 796,882
Nationwide 34.4 million    3 million   3.3 million   40.8 million  

July 3 and 7 busiest travel days

  • This year 46 percent of intending travelers plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the holiday travel period (July 3-7), compared to 65 percent last year.
  • The largest share of travelers (32 percent) on a single day will depart on July 3 and the largest share will return on July 7 (38 percent).
  • Thirty-four percent intend to stretch their holiday vacation into the following week returning on or after Monday, July 8. 

Automobile travel declines, remains dominant mode of transportation

  • Approximately 34.4 million people (84 percent) plan to drive to their destination, a decrease of 0.7 percent from the 34.7 million who drove last year. 
  • Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in travel decisions this holiday. As of mid-June, prices were up an average of 2 percent compared to the same time in 2012.
  • Despite the slight increase compared to last year, prices remain below their highs of earlier this year. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.60, 11 cents higher than last year. 

Air travel to increase slightly

  • More than 3.07 million leisure travelers (8 percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase from last year’s 3.06 million air travelers.  
  • Airfares increased 6 percent with an average lowest round-trip rate of $228 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $215 last year.
  • The remaining 8 percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus, and watercraft.

Average travel distance decreases, spending relatively unchanged

  • The average distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be 613 miles, which is 110 miles less than last year’s average of 723 miles. The decline is likely reflective of the shorter holiday period.
  • Median spending during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be $747, compared to $749 last year. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 29 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 20 percent on food and beverage and 22 percent on lodging.
  • During the holiday weekend the most popular activities are visiting with friends/family (57 percent), dining (49 percent), and shopping (44 percent). Other popular activities include going to the beach and sightseeing (36 percent) and 28 percent will celebrate the nation by visiting a national park or historic sites (21 percent).  

Car rental and hotel rates

  • According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase more than 4 percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average $164 per night compared to $158 last year.
  • The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels are expected to increase 2 percent with an average cost of $119 per night.
  • Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58, 29 percent more than last year’s average of $45. 

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

  • AAA’s eTourBook guides for North America’s top 101 destinations, available free to members at
  • AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android, and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can download the app at
  • houses lists of thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at 

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Independence Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.


Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, The Auto Club Group
Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group

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