Despite Skyrocketing Gas Prices, 1.5 Million Georgia Residents Are Expected to Travel for July 4th

June 21, 2022
5 mins read

Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards with no sign of slowing down. AAA predicts 1.5 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4). That’s 3.3% more than last year’s holiday, and a little over 4% since 2019. 

“The volume of travelers expected over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.” 

GEORGIA Independence Day Holiday Travelers
 TotalAutomobileAirOther(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2022 (Forecast)1,547,8141,393,987102,35451,472
2021 (Actual)1,497,9331,376,719100,75720,457
2019 (Actual)1,484,9721,293,920111,07979,973
Change (2019 to 2022)+4.2%+7.7%-7.8%-35.6%
Change (2021 to 2022)+3.3%+1.2%+1.5%151%
Share of Travelers by Mode (2022) 

While all modes of transportation are forecast to be stronger than last year, the biggest surprise is auto travel. Despite record high gas prices, AAA forecasts over 1.3 million Georgians will take a holiday road trip – the most on record, dating back to 2001.

Although air travel is forecast to be 1.5% stronger than last year, domestic traveler volumes are expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancelations and delays are likely the catalyst.

“Traveling by car does provide a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges with flying,” continued Haas. “But not all destinations are within driving distance, which doesn’t mean you have to abandon your vacation plans. The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help plan for the unexpected – like a flight cancelation. They are your best advocate.”

Nationwide, travel volumes follow similar trends. AAA forecasts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend. This is an increase of 4% over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. Nationally, auto travel is also forecast to set new records. 

NATIONAL Independence Day Holiday Travelers
 TotalAutomobileAirOther(Bus, Train, Cruise)
2022 (Forecast)47.9M42.0M3.55M2.42M
2021 (Actual)46.2M41.8M3.50M900,000
2019 (Actual)49.0M41.5M3.91M3.54M
Change (2019 to 2022)-2%1.1%-9.3%-31.6%
Change (2021 to 2022)+4%0.4%1.5%167.9%
Share of Travelers by Mode (2022) 

Travel Prices are Higher than Last Year

  • Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 14% more than last year coming in at $201/ticket. 
  • Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates are about 23% more than last year, with the average lowest nightly rates coming in at $244/night for AAA Approved Hotels.
  • Gas Prices—Independence Day gas prices are forecast to be the most expensive for the holiday in history. Pump prices are 52% more expensive than a year ago. On Monday, the state average was $4.47. During recent years, the state average on July 4th was $2.91 (2021) and $2.58 (2019). 
  • Car Rentals— Since last year, the average daily rate for car rentals have continued to increase. With more people traveling, these prices remain on the rise due to continued supply chain issues coupled with growing demand. While daily car rental rates have decreased 34% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $110/day, rates are $40 more/day on average than in 2019.

This Summer, Travel Stress-Free

With crowded roads and busy airports, AAA wants to help prepare travelers so they can have a stress-free July 4th celebration. It is important travelers are prepared and flexible to minimize stress and enjoy the holiday. AAA offers the following advice:

  • Have a plan A, B and C. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability may be limited, which will impact pricing. Finding last-minute deals is unlikely so it’s recommended to look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel agents are a great resource since they may know of a deal that may not be readily available to the public.
  • B-E-T on a breakdown-free trip. AAA expects to respond to over 446,000 calls for roadside assistance over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Make sure to get a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip but especially for components like a vehicle’s battery, engine and tires. Heat drains car batteries, so summer is a time of unexpected dead batteries. AAA will bring a battery to members in need, and provide discounts on the purchase price. Even a vehicle in top shape can run into an issue so it’s a good idea to pack a well-stocked emergency kit and have roadside assistance just in case.
  • Avoid the rush. Travel on off-peak times or days or pick a hidden gem closer to home. Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4) with Monday, July 4 being the lightest. For those hitting the road, the Thursday and Friday before the holiday are anticipated to be peak traffic days.  If you’re flying, plan to arrive several hours early at the airport.

Travel Bookings are up 60%; Here are the Top Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and international classics are top destinations this Independence Day. AAA data shows that bookings for air, car rentals, cruise, hotel, and tours are up 60% over last year for the top domestic Independence Day destinations and up 252% for international. 

2022 Top Independence Day Destinations
U.S Destinations International Destinations 
Orlando, FLVancouver, BC, Canada
Seattle, WAParis, France
New York, NYLondon, England
Anaheim, CARome, Italy
Anchorage, AKAmsterdam, Netherlands
Ft. Lauderdale, FLDublin, Ireland
Las Vegas, NVCalgary, AB, Canada
Honolulu, HIPunta Cana, Dominican Republic
Denver, COCancun, Mexico
Chicago, ILNassau, Bahamas

Road Trips are King this Independence Day

Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

“Even with gas hitting record prices, travelers are still eager to hit the road this summer. We expect nationwide travel times to increase about 50% compared to normal. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delays,” 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.”

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
DayWorst TimeBest Time
Thursday2:00-8:00 PMBefore 7:00 AM / After 8:00 PM
Friday12:00-9:00 PMBefore 10:00 AM / After 9:00 PM
Saturday2:00-4:00 PMBefore 12:00 PM / After 7:00 PM
SundayLow congestion expected all day
MondayLow congestion expected all day
Source: INRIX
Worst Corridors and Times to Travel
Metro AreaCorridorPeak Congestion% Over Normal
AtlantaI-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK DrThursday, 2:30-4:30 PM134%
Source: INRIX

Remember – Be Kind and Patient 

For those traveling this Independence Day, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. It’s easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal – kicking off their summer vacation safely. 

Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence, a world-leading provider of financial information and solutions, developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include 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. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsmis a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior —all after the trips have been taken.  

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of May 23, 2022.

Independence Day Holiday Travel Period

For purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4. The five-day holiday length is consistent with previous holiday periods.

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