- Travel during the July 4th weekend was busier than predicted, said research firm Arrivalist.
- States' Covid-19 rates impacted how much of an increase in trip activity they saw over the Independence Day holiday.
- Friday, July 3, was the busiest day for road trips yet this year.
Travel during the July 4th weekend was busier than predicted, but states' Covid-19 infection rates impacted how much of an increase in activity they saw over the Independence Day holiday.
Those were two of the findings from data tracked by New York-based travel research firm Arrivalist. The company predicted 36.8 million Americans would travel last weekend, representing an 11% drop compared to 2019. In fact, actual trips were down just 9% year over year.
Arrivalist's Daily Travel Index, a measure of car trips of more than 50 miles taken by residents of all states (with volume indexed against a pre-Covid-10 baseline of activity), hit 113.9% on Friday, July 3, making it the busiest day for road trips in 2020.
However, states with current surges in coronavirus cases saw travel rates 10% below the national average. States with low or decreasing Covid-19 cases, on the other hand, nearly doubled rates of travel compared to the Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.
"There were some indications that travelers are choosing destinations in areas with fewer Covid-19 cases over destinations where cases are increasing," said Arrivalist founder and CEO Cree Lawson, in a statement. As an example, he pointed to Montana, which saw one of the biggest jumps in visitation over the July 4th weekend and also has the fewest number of reported cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents.
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota was a top holiday destination, likely thanks to a speech by President Donald Trump and the first fireworks display at the national monument in almost a decade. Arrivalist found, however, than visitors were more local this year. The average distance traveled to reach Mount Rushmore was 390 miles, compared to 629 miles in 2019 — a drop of 38%.
States with the largest jumps in road trips from Memorial Day to Independence Day tended to be in the Northeast, where the pandemic seems to be leveling off, while those with drops or lower growth in trips are located in states where infections and hospitalizations are now rising.
""There has definitely been a shift in travel activity over the last few weeks," Lawson said. "This may be due to Covid-19's impact in southern and western states."
The top five states with the most growth in road trips were Delaware, up 108.3%; New Jersey, at +104.3%; Massachusetts (+100.7%); Connecticut (+100.3%); and New Hampshire (+86.2%). At the bottom of the pack were Nevada, down 2.4%; Arizona, up just 6.9%; Texas (+9.8%); Louisiana (+12.6%); and Alabama (+14.5%).