Record 46.9M Americans to travel this July 4th, AAA predicts


A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day, according to AAA.

That’s a five percent increase over last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking July 4th travel 18 years ago.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts that travel times in the most congested U.S. cities could be twice as long as normal. The Tuesday before the holiday will be the busiest day.

“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,” Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of AAA Travel and Publishing, said in a written statement. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”

One reason for the increase is that this year the holiday falls on a Wednesday, giving people the flexibility to take a long weekend before or after. The Independence Day holiday period runs from Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.

The majority of travelers– 39.7 million – will drive to their destinations this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year.

More: Fed up with flying? Heck yes, say USA TODAY readers

A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by plane, a 7.9 percent increase over last year. It’s the ninth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

Another 3.5 million people will go by train, bus or cruise ship. That is a 5.8 percent year-over-year increase.

For those who decide to drive, commutes will be worse in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

“Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will hands down be the worst time to be on the road,” says Scott Sedlik, general manager and vice president  for the public sector of INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”

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