AAA has released its annual Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast, and the numbers show that a record 41.9 million Americans are set to travel this holiday weekend.
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AAA projects 41.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day, the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase from the 41.6 million people who traveled last year. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 1 to Sunday, July 5.
Rising income, driven by a strong employment market, is prompting more Americans to take a holiday trip this year, AAA said. Despite recent seasonal increases, gas prices remain well below year-ago levels, which has helped boost Americans’ disposable income.
Nearly 85 percent of travelers (35.5 million) will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 0.7 percent. Holiday air travel is expected to increase 1.5 percent to 3.21 million leisure travelers. Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 0.5 percent this Independence Day, to 3.2 million.
Despite recent seasonal increases in the price of gas, travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower prices compared to recent years. Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices in at least five years. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.78, 88 cents less than the average price on Independence Day last year.
Travelers will encounter moderately higher lodging rates and airfares this Independence Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is six percent higher this year at $145, while Three Diamond hotels will cost nine percent more, averaging $195. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are six percent higher this Independence Day, climbing to $227.