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AAA: Tuesday afternoon, July 3, worst time to travel ahead of Independence Day

Nearly 50 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday, an increase of more than 5 percent compared with last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking 18 years ago.

For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day.

In Indiana, 1.1 million people are expected to travel, which is up 5.2 percent from 2017. Of those travelers, 979,000 are expected to travel by auto and about 50,000 by air.

In Indiana, gas prices are on average $2.86 per gallon, down from $2.96 a month ago and up from $2.09 this time last year. The average price nationally for gas is $2.88.

“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 Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA. “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 helped 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

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 39.7 million – will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year.
  • Planes: A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by air, a 7.9 percent increase and the ninth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 5.8 percent to a total of 3.5 million passengers.

Drivers Beware: Terrible Tuesday
INRIX, in collaboration 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.

Worst Days/Times to Travel
Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip
San Francisco, CA Tuesday, July 3 3:00 – 6:00 PM 1.7x
Seattle, WA Tuesday, July 3 3:00 – 6:00 PM 1.8x
Detroit, MI Tuesday, July 3 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.6x
Los Angeles, CA Tuesday, July 3 3:30 – 5:30 PM 2x
Boston, MA Tuesday, July 3 3:30 – 6:30 PM 1.8x
New York, NY Tuesday, July 3 3:30 – 6:30 PM 2.3x
Atlanta, GA Tuesday, July 3 4:00 – 6:00 PM 1.6x
Chicago, IL Tuesday, July 3 4:00 – 6:00 PM 1.7x
Washington, DC Tuesday, July 3 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2.1x
Houston, TX Tuesday, July 3 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.8x
      Source: INRIX

Travelers Paying Less for Airfare, More for Car Rentals and Hotels
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. That is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9 percent less than last year.

However, travelers can expect to pay more to rent a car and stay at mid-range hotels this Independence Day. At $66, the average daily cost of a car rental is a slight increase of 2 percent over last year. The average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond hotels is $147, 11 percent more than last year, while AAA Three Diamond hotels will average $187, a 2 percent year-over-year increase.

Theme Parks and Europe are Major Draws this Independence Day
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 travel destinations for Independence Day.

Top Domestic Travel Destinations Top International Travel Destinations
  1. Orlando, Florida
  1. Rome, Italy
  1. Anaheim, California
  1. London, England
  1. Seattle, Washington
  1. Dublin, Ireland
  1. Anchorage, Alaska
  1. Vancouver, Canada
  1. Honolulu, Hawaii
  1. Paris, France

Source: AAA’s advance travel bookings

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.

Download the AAA Mobile App Before Independence Day
Before heading out on a trip for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained inspectors to evaluate each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

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