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4th of July Travel Weekend to Be the Busiest on the Road, Ever

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 6/21/2018 Cassie Shortsleeve
a view of a city street filled with traffic next to a highway © Getty Images

The Fourth of July means BBQs, beaches, and...bumper-to-bumper traffic. That's right: Independence Day weekend travel is set to be a record-breaker this year, according to just-released data from AAA. The travel organization estimates 46.9 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate the United States' birthday—a five percent increase from last year, and the highest number since AAA began this study 18 years ago. Expect a lot of cars, too: About 39.7 million of those traveling will drive to their destinations (an increase from 2017's 37.5 million drivers). Travel times in already-congested cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. could even double, according to transportation analytics company INRIX.

“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,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing, said in a statement.

Here's the rest of the AAA intel. Godspeed, all.

  • AAA defines the holiday travel period as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8. The company predicts that Tuesday to be the most congested, so if you can leave for your trip one day earlier, you just might beat the crowds.

  • AAA projects needing to assist upwards of 362,000 drivers. Check your battery and change your oil pre-road trip; then repeat after us: Hold onto your keys. Top reasons for calls include dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts, AAA says.

  • The skies will be busy, too—about 3.8 million Americans will fly over the weekend—but the top 40 domestic flight routes will cost about nine percent less than last year. The average round-trip ticket is a respectable $171, the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, the AAA data show.

  • Hotels, however, will cost you slightly more than before. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels clock in at about $187 a night—a two-percent increase from last year.

  • Car rental prices have also risen, if only slightly: Daily rates for a rental car will average around $66—a full dollar more than in 2017.

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