HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Where did Independence Day holiday road travel in 2021 surpass 2020 levels? The better question is: 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 (down 5.6 percent), Alaska (down 3.6 percent) and Utah (down 3.0).
This analysis is based on preliminary data provided to Nexstar by Arrivalist, which tallies road trips based on GPS data. Arrivalist defines a road trip as one in which the 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 percent and roughly equaled 2019 levels, according to Arrivalist. The actual 2021 surge actually slightly underperformed a forecast published by the firm prior to the holiday, which predicted an increase of 25 percent compared to 2020 and 3.8 percent compared to 2019. (AAA, using different methodology, predicted a 40 percent increase compared to 2020 and a 2.5 percent decrease compared to 2019.)
Three contiguous states — Texas (up 36.7 percent), New Mexico (up 35.4 percent) and Arizona (up 31.6 percent) — had the biggest increases in July 4 holiday road trips compared to 2020, according to the new Arrivalist data.
For 2021 compared to 2019, the top three states were Hawaii (up 19.9 percent), Alaska (up 15.5 percent) and North Carolina (up 10.6 percent).
The top three decliners for 2021 compared to 2019 were Utah (down 10.9 percent), Louisiana (down 10.3 percent) and Idaho (down 9.1 percent).
Arrivalist defined the July 4 holiday travel period at 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, but not Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving — the shift can make year-over-year comparisons difficult.
By comparison, July 4 holiday period air travel surged from nearly nothing in 2020, recovering to about 80 percent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.