Despite higher fuel prices, AAA expects record-breaking number of holiday travelers

July 3, 2018

Tyson Fisher


For the third consecutive year, AAA is predicting a record-breaking number of travelers during the Independence Day holiday. Approximately 47 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from Tuesday, July 3, to Sunday, July 8, the vast majority of which will be hitting the roads.

Since it began tracking holiday travel 18 years ago, AAA predicts the most travelers during the Fourth of July week with an increase of 5 percent compared with 2017. Last year, AAA estimated a record-breaking 44.2 million travelers, a 2.9 percent increase from 2016’s record-breaking year. In 2015, AAA calculated the most travelers since 2007 as Americans were experiencing dropping fuel prices after 2014’s sky-high prices.

Although gasoline prices are up nearly 60 cents compared to a year ago, according to Energy Information Administration numbers, a 5 percent increase in motorists is expected this year. AAA attributes the increase to the holiday falling on a Wednesday, allowing travelers to schedule trips the weekend before or the weekend after Independence Day.

Diesel fuel prices are up 76 cents from a year ago, according to the EIA.

AAA expects Tuesday to be the busiest travel day, predicting travel times to double in some of the most congested cities. Worst travel times in congested cities range from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Below is a list of cities and their expected delay multiplier of a normal trip:

  • New York City – 2.3x
  • Washington, D.C. – 2.1x
  • Los Angeles – 2x
  • Boston – 1.8x
  • Houston – 1.8x
  • Seattle 1.8x
  • Chicago – 1.7x
  • San Francisco – 1.7x
  • Atlanta – 1.6x
  • Detroit – 1.6x

Approximately 85 percent of travelers will be hitting the interstates, accounting for nearly 40 million road trippers. Around 8 percent will take to the skies, and the remaining 7 percent plan to take a train, bus or cruise ship.