Roadways in Columbia County are filling up for summer travel and a surge of traffic can be expected locally and at popular Oregon destinations for the Independence Day holiday.

July 4 Holiday Travel Forecast

AAA forecasts 597,000 Oregonians will take a trip this 4th of July holiday, joining 47.7 million Americans in th4e travel surge.

The American Automobile Association's (AAA) just-released holiday report shows the travel volume for the 4th of July holiday is back up to pre-pandemic levels with more than 47.7 million Americans (14.4% of the population) including 597,000 Oregonians taking a trip.

This will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019.

Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.5 million people (14% of the population) are expected to travel, a 61% increase compared to 2020. In Oregon, roughly 597,000 will travel over the long weekend. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.

AAA says the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions, increased vaccinations, and lower unemployment are giving more Americans the confidence to travel for some fun and fireworks this year.

“People are eager to travel this summer after staying close to home for the last year-and-a-half. With pandemic restrictions easing and more people getting vaccinated, we saw a strong kick-off to the summer travel season over Memorial Day and that trend continues for Independence Day,” AAA Oregon/Idaho Senior Vice President of Travel Doreen Loofburrow said. “Although many aspects of daily life are returning to normal, the travel landscape has changed and AAA urges all travelers to do their part to help make travel as safe as possible.”

AAA recommends working with a travel agent, who can help if you need to make any last-minute changes to travel plans as well as explore travel insurance options and help you plan a vacation that meets your needs and comfort level this summer. AAA also advises travelers to book your lodging, camping, attractions and rental cars before leaving home.

Although the CDC advises that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, it’s important to keep in mind that some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place. AAA has developed an interactive TripTik map with local and state COVID-19 travel restrictions at AAA.com/Covidmap. Just click on the destination you’d like to visit for the latest information Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here.

For travelers who are not vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends that you practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested before and after travel. Whether you are vaccinated or not, remember masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Top Independence Day Destinations

AAA Travel is seeing a boom in online traffic and bookings on AAA.com, particularly for hotels and car rentals, for the summer travel season. Domestic travel and road trips remain the most popular.

Central Oregon and the national parks in Utah and Yellowstone are the most popular destinations for road trips this 4th of July. Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Disneyland are the top destinations for those flying, based on searches and bookings made by members of AAA Oregon/Idaho:

Road Trips

  • Central Oregon
  • Utah National Parks
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Seattle, WA
  • Montana

AAA Travel Bookings

  • Honolulu, HI
  • Maui, HI
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Cancun, Mexico

Other favorite regional destinations for Independence Day include the Oregon coast, Crater Lake, and northern California.

Road Trips: highest on record for Independence Day

More than 91% of Independence Day travelers will drive to their destinations as road trips continue to dominate this summer. In all, 43.6 million Americans will go by car, the highest on record for the holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019. This is an increase of 34% over last year.

In Oregon, roughly 512,000 will drive to their Independence Day destinations.

Air Travel sees significant jump; travel by other modes also rises

This Independence Day will see 3.5 million people taking to the skies, an increase of 164% compared to last year. Air travel volumes are at 90% of pre-pandemic levels. AAA reminds air travelers that masks are required in all airports and on flights.

In Oregon, approximately 72,000 will fly to their Independence Day destinations.

Another 620,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes this Independence Day, an increase of over 72% compared to last year, but 83% lower than in 2019. This includes travel by bus and train, and also the return of cruising.

Cruise lines have announced limited sailings resuming from U.S. ports beginning in late June. For those who make the personal decision to take a cruise, AAA reminds them that a travel agent can help advise on cancelation policies, what you can expect on your cruise, and travel insurance options to help protect your health and travel investment before and during your vacation.

Busiest Times on the roads

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be two to three times longer than normal at times in cities as holiday travels mix with commuters. Busiest travel times will be Thursday, Friday and Monday afternoons (July 1, 2 and 5).

Higher prices for travelers except airfare

Prices are up for gas, hotels and rental cars as demand climbs but down for air travel this Independence Day.

Mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32% and 35%, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

Daily car rental rates have increased 86% compared to last Independence Day, topping out at $166. Consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers. This production delay has presented a domino effect as rental car companies work to increase their inventory of new vehicles in time to meet the increased demand for domestic road travel.

AAA says average airfares have declined 2% compared to last Independence Day. The average lowest round trip airfare is $175 this year compared to $177 in 2020.

Gas prices most expensive in seven years

Pump prices for the Independence Day holiday will be the most expensive since 2014. Gas prices are almost $1 higher than a year ago, when demand plummeted with much of the country under stay-at-home orders.

The national average is currently $3.07 and the Oregon average is $3.49.

AAA says higher gas prices won’t deter travel.

“Expensive pump prices won’t keep people home. Instead, travelers will find other ways to save money, such as staying closer to home, shortening the duration of a trip, limiting restaurant meals and/or eating at moderately priced restaurants, limiting shopping budgets, and looking for free or low-cost activities,” Oregon/Idaho AAA Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said.

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