July 4, 2018, figures to be an Independence Day for the record books. It isn’t a noteworthy anniversary of our country’s independence (though we do turn a robust 242 this year); no, this year’s distinction is far more ignominious: Record-breaking traffic.
According to AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, 46.9 million Americans will embark on a trip more than 50 miles from home this Independence Day, with 39.7 million of them taking to our nation’s roads and highways. That’s a 5.1 percent increase over last year, despite gas prices spiking 57 cents per gallon compared to 2017.
AAA attributes this increase in part to the holiday falling on a Wednesday, which gives travelers more flexibility. High consumer confidence doesn’t hurt, either.
How to Beat the Crowds This Independence Day
Holiday travel is nothing new, of course, and most people taking trips for the 4th know to expect and prepare for traffic. Nevertheless, AAA has a warning: Do not leave on Tuesday afternoon or early evening.
In a press release about Independence Day travel the organization says: “Travel times could increase two-fold in the major metros across the U.S., [on Tuesday afternoon], with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. experiencing the most significant delays.”
What if you’re flying? 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,” which is the lowest average airfare in five years, and nine percent less than last year. AAA says record-breaking 3.8 million people will fly this year, up 7.9 percent over last year and the ninth year in a row that air travel increased.
In terms of popular destinations, most clock in a bit higher. Airfare to Boston averages around $478, while other Independence Day hot spots like New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Nashville, and San Francisco all average over $500. Fares may vary from your hometown, of course.
Readers, are you traveling for Independence Day this year? Do you have a regular family trip you take every year, or do you prefer to mix it up? Do you stay in the U.S., or head abroad?