With July 4 this Sunday, many families are eager to get out and celebrate the holiday once again after a pandemic year of canceled plans.
According to AAA Travel, more than 47.7 million Americans are projected to travel over the Independence Day holiday, which is expected to recover from pre-COVID levels nearly fully. This will be the second-highest Fourth of July holiday travel volume on record, trailing only 2019, which had 48.9 million people travel for the holiday.
While all modes of travel will see increased demand, road trips continue to dominate this summer. Despite the highest gas prices in seven years, more than 91 percent of holiday travel will be by car. An expected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this holiday and 5 percent more than the previous record set in 2019. In addition, with 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this July 4 will reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, told the Florida Trend, “… travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half.”
For the Delaware Valley region, Philadelphia is projected to reach 75 percent capacity over the holiday weekend. The city’s Historic District section is projected to be fully booked for hotel reservations.
“It’s a revelation, and the whole country has been looking forward to the summer and July 4th specifically as the beginning of the next phase of moving around and reconnecting with people again,” Cara Schneider, director of media relations for Visit Philly, said. “It’s honestly what people miss the most. We missed travel, we missed business as usual, and we want to help the places in our communities that are suffering.”
One significant event returning in person to Philadelphia is the Wawa Welcome America festival.
“The Wawa Welcome concert will be taking place at the Mann Center, and there will be a fireworks display on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” Schneider added. “You can stream portions of the festival on NBC 10 Philadelphia and other online outlets that you can find on the Wawa Welcome America website.”
While things may be returning to “normal” for celebrating July 4 in Philadelphia, there are still precautions that Visit Philly wants to consider as they aim to reach total capacity once again.
“We’ve been following the guidelines right from the beginning and are now fully aware of how to plan,” Schneider said. “Starting at the beginning of the year, we were up 35 percent of what we were originally forecasted for, and in the last month, we’ve begun to hit our normal numbers once again.”
“It’s just so encouraging on so many levels; it’s great for business and great for people knowing that they can do things and go to places once again,” she said.
Others in the Delaware Valley region plan to have relatively smaller gatherings for July 4th as they also return to celebrate the holiday with others.
“Last year, we decided not to gather with others for the holiday. But this year I’m planning on celebrating at my friend’s house,” Alan Fels, a Cheltenham resident who is an IT consultant, said. “In previous years, we would have around 50 people to celebrate, but this time around, we’re only going to have around a dozen people.”
While Fels will be taking a more cautious approach in celebrating July 4, he expects others to loosen up and spend the holiday with more people this year.
“I think you’re going to see an increase in travel and people getting together for the holiday,” Fels said. “It will be interesting if those numbers will reach the level they were pre-pandemic.”