AAA: Close to 1.7 million Michiganders will travel for Independence Day

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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MICHIGAN — Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000, as travel volumes continue to trend upwards with no sign of slowing down. AAA predicts that close to 1.7 million Michiganders will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend (June 30 to July 4). That’s 10 percent more than last year’s holiday, and slightly more than what was seen in 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.”

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 1.5 million Michiganders will take a holiday road trip – the most on record, dating back to 2001.

Although air travel is forecast to be 0.77 percent weaker than last year, domestic traveler volumes are expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancellations 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 cancellation. They are your best advocates.”

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 3.7 percent over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. Nationally, auto travel is also forecast to set new records.

Travel prices are higher than last year

  • Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 14 percent more than last year coming in at $201/ticket.
  • Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates are about 23 percent 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 63 percent more expensive than a year ago. On Tuesday, the state average was $5.16 compared to $3.14 on July 4th in 2021.  
  • Car Rentals— Since last year, the average daily rate for car rentals has 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 percent compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $110 per day, rates are $40 more/day on average than in 2019.

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 percent 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.”