TOWSON, MD – More Americans than ever recorded by AAA, nearly 49 million, are planning to travel over the Independence Day holiday this year, over 2 million more than last year. This trend holds true in Maryland, as AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that more than one million Marylanders will take to the roads, skies, rails, and waterways to enjoy family, friends, and fireworks. This reflects a 3.8 percent increase over last year’s forecast. The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.
“Independence Day is a time for the much loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” said Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session, families are eager to travel.”
By the Modes – 2019 National Fourth of July Holiday Travel Forecast Highlights
- Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 41.4 million – will hit the road this Independence Day, the most on record for the holiday and 4.3% more than last year.
- Planes: A record-breaking 3.96 million people will travel by air, the highest number on record, and 5.3 percent more than last year.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 0.6 percent to 3.53 million passengers.
2019 AAA Mid-Atlantic July Fourth Travel Projections
Total Travelers, 2018 Comparison
Automobile Travelers, Percentage of Travelers and 2018 Comparison
Percentage of Travelers and 2018 Comparison
Other Modes Of
Travelers, Percentage of Travelers and 2018 Comparison
Up 3.8 percent from 995,300 in 2018
Up 4.2 percent from 864,500 in 2018
Up 5 percent from 75,600 in 2018
Down 0.67 percent from 55,100 in 2018
Up 4.1 percent from 46.9 million in 2018
Up 4.3 percent from 39.7 million in 2018
Up 5.3 percent from 3.75 million in 2018
Up 0.6 percent from 3.51 million in 2018
Gas Up And Go
Today’s national average is $2.68 and gas prices are 16 cents less year-over-year. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend. Maryland motorists are paying an average of $2.58 per gallon, as of June 26, 21 cents less than a year ago.
It remains to be seen whether motorists will face a more expensive road trip this Fourth of July as a result of rising tensions in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the United States, or as a result of this morning’s announcement that the Philadelphia Energy Solution’s (PES) refinery will shut down within the next month. This news follows an explosion and two fires within the last few weeks at the South Philadelphia complex. This is the oldest and largest refinery on the East Coast, producing 335,000 barrels of crude per day (42 U.S. gallons per barrel).
“The closure of the facility will likely have an impact on gas prices in and around the region, though it is too early to know how much prices could increase, especially during summer’s peak driving season,” Ali said. “As for now, the lower-than-a-year-ago and less than Memorial Day cost of a gallon of gasoline is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend.”
Factors In Travel Increases
In addition to lower gas prices compared with last summer, broader economic fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, robust consumer spending, and rising disposable incomes are all encouraging more consumers to invest their hard-earned money in travel this summer. The expected increase in travelers this year is also helped by Independence Day falling on a Thursday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend after the holiday.
Maryland State employees have been given an opportunity to extend their holiday, with Governor Larry Hogan declaring the Friday after the Fourth of July a holiday, as well. State offices will be closed on July 4 and 5. In a statement the Governor said, “We have some tremendous family-friendly events taking place all around the state, not only on the Fourth of July, but throughout the entire weekend. I hope the long holiday will encourage Marylanders to spend more time together and celebrate our nation’s independence with all we have to offer here in our great state.”
Record-level drivers equals record-level delays
For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, July 3. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week as well, and nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately nine percent.
“With a record numbers of travelers mixing with commuters on the Wednesday before the Independence holiday, AAA is reminding motorists to pack their patience, as significant delays are expected in major metro areas,” said Ali. Drivers should avoid peak commuting hours altogether, if possible or consider alternative routes.
AAA To Rescue Nearly 367,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day holiday. During the 2018 Independence Day holiday, AAA Mid-Atlantic rescued nearly 9,500 drivers in Maryland because of dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires and more. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility, such as a AAA Car Care Center in the mid-Atlantic region or one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.
Additionally, before hitting the road, motorists need to be prepared for emergencies by taking along a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.
Travelers Paying More For July 4 Car Rentals And Airfares
Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this holiday, which are trending higher. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, mid-range accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.
AAA reminds travelers that it’s not too late to plan an Independence Day trip. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.