AAA Texas: Record-Breaking Travel Volumes Expected July Fourth Holiday Weekend

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AAA Texas projects 3.8 million Texans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend, setting a record for the holiday. That is a five percent increase from last year and a seven percent jump from the previous record in 2019. At a national scale, 50.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend, also setting a record for the holiday. This year’s projection surpasses the previous national July Fourth weekend record set in 2019 of 49 million travelers.

TX 2023 Independence Day Highlights

“Texans are booking bucket list trips in record numbers this Independence Day holiday weekend,” said AAA Texas Vice President and General Manager, Galen Grillo. “To help keep travelers stress levels at a minimum, AAA Texas recommends making sure your vehicle is well maintained and to work with a trusted travel advisor.”

This July Fourth weekend is expected to set a record for the number of Texans and Americans traveling by car for the holiday. AAA Texas expects 3.2 million Texans will drive to their destinations, an increase of three percent from last year and eight percent higher than 2019. A similar increase is forecast across the country as 43.2 million people will drive to their destinations. This summer, gas prices are well below what they were one year ago. The national average for a gallon of regular was $4.80 on July 4th, 2022. Gas prices have remained steady over the past couple of months, with the national average hovering around $3.50 to $3.60 a gallon, thanks to the lower cost of oil.

TX 2023 Independence Day Travel Volume
TX_U.S. Independence Day Travel Volume

Air travel is also expected to set a new record. AAA projects 392,000 Texans will fly to their destinations this Independence Day weekend, a jump of 12 percent from last year and up 12 percent from 2019. Nationally, 4.17 million Americans will fly to their destinations Independence Day weekend, an increase of 11.2 percent over 2022 and 6.6 percent over 2019. The previous July Fourth weekend air travel record of 3.91 million travelers was set in 2019. The share of air travelers in the overall holiday forecast this year is an impressive 8.2 percent – the highest percentage in nearly 20 years.

Other modes of transportation are also on the rise this year. AAA expects 189,000 Texans will travel by bus, cruise, or train over the long weekend, an increase of 21 percent over last year and is eight percent lower than 2019. Across America, 3.36 million people will travel by bus, cruise, or train over the long weekend, an increase of 24 percent over last year. While more travelers are turning to these other modes this year, the number is not expected to surpass 2019’s total of 3.54 million.

Make sure your road trip ready

With more than three million Texans driving to their holiday destination, AAA Texas reminds drivers that summer’s high temperatures can take a toll on their car. Extreme heat can push a car past its limits, and that can lead to some drivers finding themselves stranded at the roadside. This Independence Day holiday period, AAA Texas projects it will come to the rescue of 20,657 AAA members. On a national scale, AAA will rescue more than 393,000 motorists this holiday period.

2023 TX Independence Day Roadside Rescues

The top reasons for roadside emergencies will be dead batteries, flat tires and engine problems. To reduce the risk of a breakdown, drivers should have their vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic before embarking on a long road trip.

Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their car. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.

Best/Worst Times to Travel and Peak Congestion by Metro

2023 Independence Day Travel_Best_Worst Times
2023 Independence Day Travel_Peak Congestion by Metro

Summer Travel Trends and Tips

Travel demand has been steadily increasing since 2020, and this summer is poised to be one for the record books. Here are some trends and tips from AAA Travel.

  • Air travel is seeing the biggest spike despite high ticket prices. Passengers are paying 40 to 50 percent more for flights compared to last year, but AAA data shows bookings aren’t slowing down. Many airlines are responding to demand by hiring more staff and taking smaller regional planes out of service and replacing them with larger ones to increase capacity. However, there are still challenges, including a shortage of air traffic controllers that has led to reduced service in and out of New York City area airports.
    • AAA Travel Tip: Apply for TSA Precheck to avoid long security lines at packed airports. You can enroll at participating AAA branches during TSA PreCheck® by IDEMIA pop-up events, which are posted HERE 45 days in advance.
  • Hotel prices are up slightly over 2022, but not by much. While the number of domestic hotel bookings is about the same as last year, AAA data shows international hotel bookings are up 80% compared to 2022. International travel demand is booming and so are passport applications. The U.S. State Department says it’s processing half a million applications a week. Routine service is averaging 10-13 weeks.
    • AAA Travel Tip: Need a passport fast? RushMyPassport provides expedited services and discounts for AAA members. This past May, they handled more than 1,100 applications from AAA members, compared to just 73 applications in May of last year.
  • Car rental shortages seen during the pandemic have improved. Inventory has been increasing steadily since last year, with newer models and electric vehicles added to fleets. AAA data shows rental prices are down slightly from last year. Demand for international rental cars is up more than 80 percent compared to 2022.
    • AAA Travel Tip: If you’re planning to drive abroad, keep in mind some countries require International Driving Permits. AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the State Department to issue IDPs. This year, AAA reports demand for IDPs is double what it was in 2022.
  • Cruising is back to pre-pandemic numbers, with sold-out ships and advance bookings. Prices are about the same as 2022, with certain cruises a bit higher this year due to demand. Alaska cruises are particularly popular this time of year. AAA booking data also shows Caribbean cruises and European river cruises are top vacations in 2023.
    • AAA Travel Tip: Protect your investment with travel insurance. AAA data shows demand for travel insurance is up more than 100% over last year, as more travelers now see the need to prepare for the unexpected.

Holiday Forecast Methodology  

Travel Forecast 

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence 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 gasoline prices, 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/MonitorSM is 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, forecast U.S. travel behavior and position brands—all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and SPGMI 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 15, 2023.

Independence Day Holiday Travel Period 

For purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4. When the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday, it is considered to be a six-day holiday period, when it falls on any other day of the week the holiday period is a five-day window.

About AAA 

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.