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Independence Day Travel Insights

Published on Jul 9, 2020 in Blog, Daily Travel Index

Remote destinations like Montana and Mount Rushmore as well as states with decreasing COVID-19 cases led the way for Independence Day Travel, the biggest travel event so far in 2020.

Before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, we predicted that around 36.8 million Americans would hit the road to celebrate Independence day, bringing us down 11% from the same weekend last year. Data from the weekend is here, and it turns out travel over the Fourth of July weekend was even busier than initially predicted. Actual Independence Day travel was down just 9% from last year, not too far off from our initial prediction.

Independence Day travel Insights: Arrivalist predicted Fourth of July road trip volume would fall 11% year-over-year. Actual visitation was down just 9%. The Daily Travel Index hit 113.9% on Friday, making July 3 the busiest day for road trips so far in 2020.
Arrivalist predicted Fourth of July road trip volume would fall 11% year-over-year. Actual visitation was down just 9%. The Daily Travel Index hit 113.9% on Friday, making July 3 the busiest day for road trips so far in 2020.

Remote Destinations Draw Visitors

Mount Rushmore was among the top destinations over the weekend. Using our unique mobile-GPS data, we saw visitation to the national monument increased from than 24% compared to last year.  A speech by President Trump and the first fireworks celebration in nearly a decade contributed to the area’s draw. Visitors came from a closer proximity this year, however, the average distance this year being 390 miles versus 629 miles in 2019 (a decrease of 38 percent).

Independence Day Travel Insights: Top Origin Zip Codes for Mount Rushmore during this 4th of July compared to last year.

Areas with Surge in Coronavirus Cases see Drop in Travel.

Travel trends were not uniform across the country. Road Trip travel activity varied between different origin markets across the nation. Resident travel from states where COVID-19 cases are increasing, for example, was down 10 percent below the national average. By comparison, states with low or decreasing COVID-19 cases almost doubled the level of travel activity in those areas compared to Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.

COVID-19 cases decreasing or increasing by state.

“There were some indications that travelers are choosing destinations in areas with fewer COVID-19 cases over destinations where cases are increasing,” said Arrivalist Founder and CEO, Cree Lawson. “Montana, for example, had one of the biggest spikes in visitation over the Fourth of July weekend. That state also leads the country with the fewest reported cases per 100,000 residents.”

Independence Day Travel Insights: Drive Trip Index in context of COVID-19 cases Trend. Chart shows the daily drive market index of US travelers who moved at least 50 miles and spent a minimum of 2 hours in Destination. The index is a relative daily volume of travelers compared to the average travelers in February 2020.

Different Visitation Patterns than Memorial Day Weekend

In comparing Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25) to the Fourth of July holiday (July 1-4), the following five states recorded the highest increase in road trips:

  1. Delaware: +108.3% increase
  2. New Jersey: +104.3% increase
  3. Massachusetts: +100.7% increase
  4. Connecticut: +100.3% increase
  5. New Hampshire: +86.2% increase

Whereas the following five state residents ranked at the bottom of the list:

  1. Nevada: -2.4% decrease
  2. Arizona: +6.9% increase
  3. Texas: +9.8% increase
  4. Louisiana: +12.6% increase
  5. Alabama: +14.5% increase

“There has definitely been a shift in travel activity over the last few weeks,” said Lawson. “While we saw a surge in road trips from the Southern region during Mother’s Day weekend, we saw a surge in road trips in New England and eastern states over Independence Day. This may be due to COVID-19’s impact in southern and western states.”

Independence Day Travel Insights: 
Daily Travel Index - US Travel trends by holiday.