NEWS RELEASES

Current news and information regarding government affairs, gas and travel information.

Search below using state and category

Martha Meade
Public Relations Manager, VA

C: (804) 543-7190
mmeade@aaamidatlantic.com

Morgan Dean
Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, VA
C: (804) 921-6198
mdean@aaamidatlantic.com

RICHMOND, VA (Wednesday, June 30, 2021)—More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

While all modes of travel will see increased demand this Independence Day, the Great American Road Trip continue to dominate this summer. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, more than 91% of holiday travel will be by car. An expected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019. With 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this Independence Day will reach 90% of pre-pandemic levels, and increase 164% compared to last year.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off to the  summer travel season. All indications are that Independence Day will be even busier.”

 Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72% compared to last year, but 83% lower than in 2019. This includes travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising. Cruise lines have announced limited sailings resuming from U.S. ports beginning in late June. For those who make the personal decision to take a cruise, AAA reminds them that a travel advisor can help advise on cancelation policies, what you can expect on your cruise, and travel insurance options to help protect your health and travel investment before and during your vacation.

 

2021 Independence Day Holiday Travelers

 

Total

Automobile

Air

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2021 (Forecast)

47.7M

43.6M

3.5M

620,000

2020 (Actual)*

34.2M

32.5M

1.3M

359,000

2019 (Actual)

48.9M

41.5M

3.9M

3.5M

Change (2019 to 2021)

−2.5%

+5.1%

−10.3%

−82.5%

Change (2020 to 2021)

+39.6%

+34.1%

+163.8%

+72.7%

*AAA did not issue an Independence Day holiday travel forecast in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, actual travel volumes were recorded after the holiday for comparison purposes this year.

Virginia Forecast

AAA expects nearly 1.33 Million Virginians to travel this Independence Day holiday, a 37% increase from last year when just 968,000 traveled for the holiday.  Overall, state travel numbers are returning to pre-pandemic levels with just 1% fewer Virginians expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019 which set a record. 

 Nearly 93% (1.23M) of Virginians who are traveling this year will go by car. That’s an increase of 32% over last summer when just 926,000 Virginians hit the road to celebrate July Fourth. It also represents a 5% increase over the record number of Virginians who hit the road back in 2019.

2021 Virginia Independence Day Holiday Travelers

 

Total

Automobile

Air

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2021 (Forecast)

1.33M

1.23M

88,197

11,770

2020 (Actual)*

968,458

926,911

34,350

7,196

2019 (Actual)

1.34M

1.17M

101,391

72,407

Change (2019 to 2021)

−1.1%

+5%

−13%

−83%

Change (2020 to 2021)

+37%

+33%

+157%

+63%

*AAA did not issue an Independence Day holiday travel forecast in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, actual travel volumes were recorded after the holiday for comparison purposes this year.

Long Delays Expected for Drivers

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, along with the return trip on Monday mid-day. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see nearly double the delays versus typical drive times, with drivers in Boston and San Francisco likely to experience nearly three-times the delays.

“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delay,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst, INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon, along with Monday mid-day.”

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel

Metro Area

Corridor

Peak Congestion

% over Normal

Atlanta

I-75 N, Jodeco Road to Jenkinsburg Road

Friday, 1:00–3:00PM

50%

Boston

I-95 S, MA-10 to Sanford Road

Monday, 3:00–5:00PM

330%

Chicago

I-90 E, W Roosevelt Road to I-294

Friday, 4:00–6:00PM

50%

Detroit

I-75 N, 12 Mile Road to Oakland St

Friday, 3:00–6:00PM

50%

Houston

I-10 W, Bernardo Road to Pin Oak Road

Saturday, 8:00–10:00AM

50%

Los Angeles

I-405 N, I-5 to Jefferson Blvd

Friday, 3:00–5:00PM

10%

New York

I-278 E, Bronx River to Williamsburg St

Thursday, 3:00–5:00PM

30%

San Francisco

CA-17 N, Lark Ave to Mt Hermon Road

Monday, 6:00–8:00PM

340%

Seattle

I-5 S, Capitol Blvd (Olympia) to JBLM

Friday, 1:00–3:00PM

20%

Washington DC

I-95 S, Route 3 to Dumfries Road

Thursday, 2:00–4:00PM

30%

Source: INRIX

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel

Date

Worst Time

Best Time

Thursday

3:00 - 5:00PM

After 7:00PM

Friday

4:00 - 5:00PM

Before 12:00PM

Saturday

11:00AM - 1:00PM

After 2:00PM

Sunday

Free flow expected

Monday

4:00 - 5:00PM

Before 1:00PM

Source: INRIX

 

Travelers: Prepare for Higher Prices

While AAA found average airfares have declined 2% compared to last Independence Day, travelers can expect to find higher prices for hotels and car rentals as demand climbs. Mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32% and 35%, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

Daily car rental rates have increased 86% compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers. This production delay has presented a domino effect as rental car companies work to increase their inventory of new vehicles in time to meet the increased demand for domestic road travel.

The 43.6 million Americans expected to travel by car this Independence Day can expect gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014 with the national average likely to remain above $3 per gallon.

“Higher gas prices won’t deter drivers from hitting the road this summer. In fact, we’re expecting record-breaking levels of car travel this July Fourth,” said Meade. “Though prices will remain above $3 a gallon, travelers are likely to look for more free activities or eat out less, but still take their vacations as planned.”

AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Save 30 cents per gallon on your first fill-up at Shell when you join between July 1 and August 31, 2021. Join now at AAA.com/Shell.

Make Sure Your Car is Road Trip-Ready

Before hitting the road, AAA reminds drivers to plan their route in advance and ensure their vehicle is ready, to help avoid a breakdown along the way. AAA expects to rescue more than 460,000 Americans at the roadside this Independence Day weekend. AAA Car Care Centers are staffed with  car care professionals who are ready to help drivers get their vehicles ready to hit the road for the holiday. These locations are also offering free “Great American Road Trip Vehicle Health Inspection” to both members and non-members through the end of July. This free inspection includes tire, brake, battery, exterior lights and fluid level safety checks. Appointments can be scheduled at AAA.com/CarCare.

AAA makes it easy to request assistance—by phone or text (1-800-AAA-HELP), app or online—and members can track the service technician’s progress en route to their vehicle. Also, don’t leave home without an emergency roadside kit and continue to pack extra snacks or meals as well as cleaning supplies, including disinfecting wipes.

Great American Road Trip Campaign

As Americans begin their Great American Road Trips this summer, AAA is here and ready to help. We’ve compiled our favorite trip-planning resources, backed by more than 100 years of road-tested experience and expertise.  AAA.com/RoadTrip is a free resource to help travelers find inspiration, explore destinations, plan the perfect route and get their vehicle road trip ready.

Regardless of how you plan to get to your destination, AAA advises travelers to consult with a knowledgeable travel advisor to help plan their trips this Memorial Day. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. For the purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 through Monday, July 5. When the Fourth of July falls on any day of the week other than a Wednesday, it is considered to be a five-day holiday period. The travel forecast was prepared the week of June 1, 2021.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. For the 2021 Independence Day holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding COVID‑19–related restrictions and activity.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. INRIX’s partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

About IHS Markit:
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.

Related Articles

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

public affairs

Keeping Member's interests at the forefront

Contacts by region

fuel price finder

Find the lowest gas price in your area

Find prices

gas information

Tools, tips and other resources

learn more

Videos

Local news stories & information

Watch now