AAA: America just can’t wait to get on the road again

Orlando is expected to be the nation's top 4th of July trip destination.

America is hitting the road again next week in what could be the second-biggest Independence Day travel weekend ever, AAA — The Auto Club Group is projecting.

More than 47.7 million Americans plan to travel during the July 4 weekend, a movement topped only by the pre-pandemic record for Independence Day set in 2019, AAA reported Tuesday.

Florida travel figures are also rebounding. Nearly 2.6 million Floridians are forecast to take a trip during the holiday weekend. That’s the second-most on record, and 36% more than the 2020 holiday period, AAA said.

Orlando will be the nation’s top destination. Fellow Disney host city Anaheim, California, will be number two, AAA projected based on AAA Travel advance air and tour bookings. Other top destinations include Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Boston, and Hawaii.

“Travel is back this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue vacations they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group, said in a news release “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day.”

Americans remain a bit uncomfortable with flying. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, more than 91% of holiday travel will be by highway, AAA predicted. That should result in a new record for driving for the weekend at 43.6 million people nationally.

AAA predicted 2.4 million Floridians will drive somewhere. That’s up from 2.3 million in 2019. There will be 174,000 Floridians flying, three times as many as in 2020, but fewer than the 194,000 who took to the skies for Independence Day travel in 2019.

“Road trips provide a sense of freedom and more control over the duration of your trip,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in the release. “Even more expensive gas prices are unlikely to deter Americans from that road trip many have waited more than a year for. If anything, motorists are more likely to cut back on other expenses like lodging and dining out, to offset the higher cost of fuel.”

Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of more than 72% compared to last year, but 83% fewer than in 2019. This includes travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising. Cruise lines have announced limited sailings resuming from U.S. ports beginning in late June.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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