HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Where did this year’s Independence Day road travel surpass 2020 levels? A better question might be: Where didn’t it?
Among all states and Washington, D.C., only three states had fewer holiday road trips in 2021 than in 2020, and the declines were all in the single digits: Idaho was down 5.6%, while Alaska dipped 3.6% and Utah was down 3%.
The analysis is based on preliminary data provided to Nexstar by Arrivalist, which tallies road trips based on GPS data. According to Arrivalist, a road trip is one in which a driver travels at least 50 miles and spends at least two hours at a destination. Repeated and routine trips, such as long commutes, are excluded.
Nationally, road trips exceeded 2020 levels by 20% and roughly equaled 2019 levels, according to Arrivalist. Actually, the 2021 surge slightly underperformed a forecast published by the firm before the holiday that predicted an increase of 25% compared to 2020 and 3.8% compared to 2019. (Using a different methodology, AAA predicted a 40% increase compared to 2020 and a 2.5% decrease compared to 2019.)
Texas, New Mexico and Arizona had the biggest increases in July 4 holiday road trips compared to 2020, according to the Arrivalist data.
For 2021 compared to 2019, Washington, D.C., actually topped the list of gainers, at 13.3%. The top three states were North Carolina (up 10.6%), Michigan (up 10.4%) and Colorado (up 6.7%).
The top three decliners for 2021 compared to 2019 were Utah (down 10.9%), Louisiana (down 10.3%) and Idaho (down 9.1%).
Arrivalist defined the July 4 holiday travel period as July 3-7 in 2019, July 1-5 in 2020 and July 1-5 in 2021.
July 4 falls on a different day of the week each year, which can affect the holiday travel period for some people by compressing or extending it. As with other holidays that fall on different days — Christmas, for example — the shift can make year-over-year comparisons difficult.
Additionally, July 4 holiday air travel surged from nearly nothing in 2020, recovering to about 80% of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.