CHARLOTTE, NC (June 21, 2018) – This Independence Day holiday, a record-breaking 1,312,500 North Carolinians, and more than 661,500 South Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more away from home – an increase of more than 5 percent from last year – taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways to honor the red, white and blue. For those planning a road trip, AAA Carolinas predicts travel times in most places will take twice as long than the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day.
“Despite high gas prices, Carolinians appear to be traveling in record numbers to celebrate Independence Day,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, adding to an already busy summer travel season.”
In addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is helped by Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday. The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.
State Numbers: Independence Day Travel Forecast
- 1,765,680 Carolinians (1,156,100 North Carolinians and 609,580 South Carolinians) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 5.1 percent from last year.
- 163,556 Carolinians (101,426 North Carolinians and 62,130 South Carolinians) are taking to the skies – increasing air travel by a record breaking 7.9 percent.
- 75,118 Carolinians (39,146 North Carolinians and 35,972 South Carolinians) will look to other modes of transportation such as cruises, trains and buses.
Drivers Beware: Terrible Tuesday
INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion over the holiday week on Tuesday, July 3 in the late afternoon – as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Travel times could increase two-fold in the major metros across the U.S., with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. experiencing the most significant delays.
“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around major metros,” says Scott Sedlik, general manager and vice president – public sector, INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will hands down be the worst time to be on the road. Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”
“As motorists experience delays and congested roads, it’s important for them to practice patience behind the wheel and avoid becoming frustrated while driving to prevent road rage,” added Wright.
Gas Prices Starting to Stabilize Heading into Independence Day
Gas prices have slowly but steadily started to fall since the 2018 high of $2.80 (NC) and $2.65 (SC) set over Memorial Day weekend. Since then, the price has dropped and 11 cents and 13 cents, respectively. It’s the highest prices Carolinians will face over the Independence day holiday since 2014. However, the higher prices are having little effect on travelers this Independence Day, with record number of travelers still planning to hit the road this year.
Travel numbers are not expected to change for the Independence Day weekend, though gas prices likely will. For the most up-to-date gas prices throughout the Carolinas, visit www.gasprices.aaa.com
Below is a breakdown of the state averages over the past Independence Day periods.