July Fourth will have most travelers ever, AAA predicts

It’s fitting that, on a holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence, millions of Americans will exercise their freedom by driving, flying, or riding. Whether it’s to a backyard family barbecue or a spectacular fireworks show, the pursuit of happiness can lead travelers far from home.  AAA Travel is predicting—thanks to improving consumer sentiment and despite modestly higher gas prices—that this year’s Independence Day will be the busiest ever recorded. That’s because they’re forecasting that nearly 47 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more between July 3 and July 8.

AAA's forecast by the numbers

  •  Travelers by automobile:

    39.7 million
  • Travelers by air:

    3.7 million
  • Travelers by train or other:

    3.5 million

  • National average gas price for regular as of June 21:

    $2.87
  • Projected increase in travelers in 2018 vs. 2017:

    +2 million
  • Years that travel volume will have increased:

    5 in a row

The factors that affect the forecast

  • Green icon with arrow trending up

    Economy still going strong

    Overall economic growth has been strong, with the unemployment rate at or near historic lows.
  • Green icon with arrow trending up

    Consumers feel optimistic

    Consumer sentiment and confidence levels are high, and this is reflected in growing consumer spending.
  • Red icon with arrow trending up

    Gas prices modestly higher

    The national average for a gallon of regular is $2.87, which is 59 cents more than last year.
Road traffic forecast for major cities, according to INRIX
 
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the July Fourth holiday, transportation analytics company INRIX predicts drivers will experience the greatest congestion in the late afternoon on "Terrible Tuesday," July 3, as commuters leave work early and mix with vacation travelers. 

  • Atlanta

    Atlanta

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    4-6 p.m.

  • Boston

    Boston

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    3:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Chicago

    Chicago

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    4-6 p.m.

  • Detroit

    Detroit

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    3:30-5:30 p.m.

  • Houston

    Houston

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Los Angeles

    Los Angeles

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    3:30-5:30 p.m.

  • New York City

    New York City

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    3:30-6:30 p.m.

  • San Francisco

    San Francisco

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    3-6 p.m.

  • Washington, D.C.

    Washington, D.C.

    Worst day for travel:
    Tuesday, July 3

    Worst time for travel:
    4-6 p.m.

What it means for you

Road tripping in the family car is a classic method of summer travel: AAA Travel predicts that more than 39 million automobile travelers will account for 84 percent of all Independence Day vacation trips.


With so many on the road, it’s no surprise this is a busy time for AAA’s Roadside Assistance. AAA expects to rescue about 362,000 motorists this Independence Day holiday. Want to avoid being one? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get your battery checked

    If your battery is more than three years old, don’t risk getting stranded. One easy way to have it tested is with AAA Battery Service, which will come directly to you. Learn more about AAA Battery Service.
  • Check your tire pressure

    Improperly inflated or unevenly worn tires can lead to sudden blowouts, especially in hot weather. Not sure what you should be looking for? Check out AAA's guide to maintaining your tires.
  • Bring a spare key

    Despite the wide adoption of wireless “smart” keys, AAA hasn't seen a significant reduction in lockout calls. Having a backup key can’t prevent a lockout, but can make it much easier to resolve.

  • Get a checkup

    Dead batteries and flat tires are most common, but AAA tows lots of vehicles with unforeseen engine, transmission, and brake issues.  Not sure where to go? Consider a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
  • Pack an emergency kit

    Every vehicle should have a kit with a phone charger, flashlight, first-aid kit, tire pressure gauge, adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, and snacks.
  • Get the Auto Club App

    Whether you’re looking to map a route, find low gas prices, request Roadside Assistance, or find an Approved Auto Repair facility, the Auto Club App makes it simple. Learn more about the Auto Club App.