In a strong sign for the travel industry, AAA reports that 43 million Americans are expected to travel this Fourth of July weekend, representing the highest July Fourth travel volume on record. 43 million is also five million more Americans than hit the road for Memorial Day, which saw its strongest travel weekend this year since 2005.
The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
AAA attributed the strong travel forecast to low gas prices, which have saved U.S. drivers about $20 billion on gasoline so far this year versus 2015. Additionally, rising consumer confidence and economic activity are offsetting a cooling labor market to boost travel, AAA said.
Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year, with 3.3 million Americans set to fly this weekend. Most travelers, however, will drive, with 84 percent of travelers (over 36 million people) hitting the road, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase two percent to 3.3 million travelers. AAA’s holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.
Average airfares have fallen nine percent this Independence Day, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $207. Hotel costs have also fallen slightly.