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Travel traffic: This 4th of July could be the busiest yet

Don't stress: What to know about 4th of July travel this year

Congested traffic on highway
Daniel Lee via Unsplash

On July 4th, we celebrate our nation’s independence by spending time with friends and family and enjoying fun foods and fireworks. Visiting the coast or lighting up the grill provides the perfect background for a cheeseburger and an ice-cold pale ale. It’s good old-fashioned Americana.

Some years, the Fourth of July occurs at an ideal time, creating a nice opportunity for a long weekend. This year, there’s a perfect Thursday through Sunday window, giving travelers more time to unwind under the sun. But with that comes a drawback: record travel activity.

Recently, AAA reported on what’s expected to be a congested period on roads and runways. Here’s what you need to know.

Independence Day 2024: Record traffic on your way to celebrate

People in Miami Airport terminal
Ri_Ya via Pixabay

This July 4th travel period (6/29-7/7), AAA forecasts 70.9 million people to travel over 50 miles from home. That represents a 5% increase over 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019. Let’s delve into the data. 

The estimate includes 60.6 million traveling via car — an increase of 2.8 million since last year. 5.74 million airline passengers are expected to take to the skies, for a 7% uptick year over year. Over 4.6 million are projected to go via trains, buses, and cruises, up by 9% since 2023. 

Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, expanded on the stats, saying, “With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day.”

She continued, “We anticipate this July 4th week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

The Associated Press noted that — in contrast to inflation in other areas — travel-related expenses have decreased in the past year. In May, hotel costs were down by 1.2% compared to 2023, and gas was at a reasonable $3.43 per gallon, a 12-cent yearly drop.

July 4th lets you celebrate and unwind with friends and family. But if you’re hitting the road — or the air, sea, or railways — be prepared for record crowds. Arriving at the airport two hours early and driving in the morning helps you avoid congestion on your way to good times. The journey might be arduous this year, but the long weekend makes it worth it.

Mark Reif
Mark Reif is a writer from Stowe, Vermont. During the winter, he works as a snowboard coach and rides more than 100 days. The…
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