Record travel expected this Fourth of July

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

This Independence Day, a record-breaking 1,250,000 North Carolinians, and more than 630,000 South Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more away from home, taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways to honor the red, white and blue. AAA expects 2017 to be marked as the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend ever.

“Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Carolinians are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Independence Day weekend,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “The historic number of travelers adds to what is already shaping up to be a busy summer travel season.”

The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4.

State Numbers: Independence Day Travel Forecast

  • 1,680,000 Carolinians (1,100,000 North Carolinians and 580,000 South Carolinians) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.
  • 151,000 Carolinians (94,000 North Carolinians and 57,000 South Carolinians) are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 4.6 percent over last year.
  • 71,000 Carolinians (37,000 North Carolinians and 34,000 South Carolinians), an increase of 1.4 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

Gas Prices Lower than Last Year
Gas prices have been declining in June, a result of strong oil production in the U.S. The average price for a gallon of gas in North Carolina is $2.12, 8 cents less than last year. South Carolina’s average is also 8 cents less than 2016 at $1.94. However, consumers may see prices increase, albeit by pennies, closer to the holiday weekend, similar to the Memorial Day gas price trend.

Some of the most popular drive destinations for Carolinians include Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Wilmington, Charleston, Greenville, S.C. and Washington, D.C.

Last Independence Day, North Carolina saw 13 traffic fatalities, four of which were alcohol-related. In South Carolina, there were 17 traffic fatalities, five of which were alcohol or drug related.

“July 4th is one of the deadliest days of the year for traffic deaths,” said Parsons. “Don’t turn a good time into a tragedy. Don’t drink and drive, buckle up, obey speed limits and put down the cell phone. Distracted driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.”

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates lower this Independence Day
Travelers can expect lower prices for airfares, car rentals and hotels this Independence Day weekend. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 10 percent lower this year, with an average round-trip ticket landing at $186. Daily car rental rates will average $65, which is 14 percent less than last Independence Day. Hotel costs are the same as last year, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $185 per night.

AAA Carolinas expects to rescue more than 11,000 motorists this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. 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.

AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.