36.8 million Americans will hit the open road for the Fourth of July weekend, making Independence Day the biggest road trip event so far this year. Compared to the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) travel prediction last year, road trip travel will be down 11 percent from the 41.1 million travelers predicted in 2019 (source). Road trip activity for the holiday weekend is expected to be the highest recorded by the Daily Travel Index so far in 2020 with volumes similar to the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday.
Following the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we reported road trip activity returned to pre-COVID levels. Despite widespread social unrest and ongoing health threats from the novel coronavirus, the Daily Travel Index reached 85% over the index baseline during the recent Memorial Day Weekend and continues to rise. We predict the Daily Travel index will cross 100% for the first time of the Fourth of July, meaning that twice as many travelers will hit the road compared to an average day in February.
“In many respects, these are unprecedented times, but solid data and reliable models can still provide the certainty that travelers and the travel industry need to adapt to the times,” says Arrivalist Founder and CEO Cree Lawson.
Weekends leading up to this year’s 4th of July festivities have seen marked increases in road trip activity; the 2nd weekend in June (June 11-13) had road trip volumes even exceeding measured activity over the recent 2020 Memorial Day Weekend. While Americans took to the road for longer trips (100 miles or more) over Memorial Day, shorter trips (50-100 miles) have been more popular since. 4th of July is typically one of the busiest weeks of the year for car travel and this year is especially notable for decreased demand for air travel, lower than normal gas prices, and many destinations, theme parks, and other attractions reopening around the country. Road trips are considered to be the leading indicator of the travel industry’s recovery. The Daily Travel Index is a daily measure of road trip activity (trips by car over 50 miles) taken by residents of all 50 U.S. states, with volume indexed against a baseline of activity established just before the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the purpose of projections, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as a five-day period between Wednesday, July 1, 2020, to Sunday, July 5, 2020. The actual forecast for domestic drive volume was based on daily drive volume recorded from July 1, 2019, IMHE projected COVID-10 deaths in the U.S., U.S. Department of Transportation State Motor Registrations, and travel and tourism economic factors such as seasonality and day of the week. The prediction model is based on an expected logistic growth due to the surge of road trips witnessed by Arrivalist data.