This Independence Day holiday, Kansans will be among a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home, an increase of 2.38 million or more than 5 percent compared with last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking 18 years ago.
“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Kansans and Americans overall take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” says Jennifer Haugh, AAA Kansas spokeswoman. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”
The West North Central Region*, of which Kansas is a part, will see more than 3.57 million people taking Independence Day week trips, a 4.4 percent increase over 2017 and the largest number of travelers since 2007, according to AAA. Despite gas prices 55 to 60 cents higher than a year ago in the Sunflower State, motorists do not appear to be deterred from July Fourth road trips. Kansas has the 10th lowest gas prices in America this week, and the nearby states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas have even cheaper prices at the pump.
In addition to strong economic variables, AAA Kansas’ Haugh says, 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.
AAA Kansas member services representatives, based on requests for maps, TripTiks and travel guides, report the following top driving destinations for Kansans for this Fourth of July period:
- Branson, Mo./Table Rock Lake
- Kansas City
- Oklahoma City
AAA Kansas travel agents have been booking a significant number of flights to Las Vegas, Orlando, Alaska and Cancun, as well as cruises to various destinations, including Alaska, the Caribbean and the Greek Isles.
By the Numbers: 2018 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast
Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 39.7 million nationwide – will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year.
Planes: A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by air, a 7.9 percent increase and the ninth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 5.8 percent to a total of 3.5 million passengers.
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. AAA recommends drivers avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.
AAA to Rescue More Than 362,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside – including more than 1,600 in Kansas – around the Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
Gas Prices Starting to Stabilize Heading into Independence Day
Gas prices have slowly but steadily started to fall since the 2018 national high of $2.97 set over Memorial Day weekend. Since then, the national gas price has dropped 12 cents to $2.85 (as of June 26), which is 58 cents more than one year ago. 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.
Travelers Paying Less for Airfare, More for Car Rentals and Hotels
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. That is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9 percent less than last year.
However, travelers can expect to pay more to rent a car and stay at mid-range hotels this Independence Day. At $66, the average daily cost of a car rental is a slight increase of 2 percent over last year. The average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond hotels is $147, 11 percent more than last year, while AAA Three Diamond hotels will average $187, a 2 percent year-over-year increase.
Theme Parks and Europe are Major Draws this Independence Day
This Independence Day, travelers will flock to theme parks in Orlando and southern California, while many others are heading west. Alaska cruises departing from Seattle, Anchorage and Vancouver round out the top five U.S. travel destinations for the holiday. For those venturing overseas, Europe is a major draw, with Rome, London, Dublin and Paris all making the list of top international travel destinations for Independence Day.
Top Domestic Travel Destinations / Top International Travel Destinations
- Orlando, Florida
- Rome, Italy
- Anaheim, California
- London, England
- Seattle, Washington
- Dublin, Ireland
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Vancouver, Canada
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Paris, France
Source: AAA’s advance travel bookings
Load the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway
Before heading out on a trip for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, locate the lowest gas prices, find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.