Independence Day travelers to top 40 million over July 4th, AAA says
By Jay Keller
AAA Travel projects that holiday travel over the July 4th holiday, the five-day period of July 3-7, will decline this year as 40.8 million Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more from home, nearly a one-percent decrease from the 41.1 million people who traveled last year.
AAA says the slippage in holiday travel is due mostly to a shorter holiday period with Independence day landing on a Thursday but the organization also maintains that economic concerns are still forcing some into a “staycation” this year.
Families will likely take a standard, five-day holiday this year as compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday.
“Independence Day is typically the busiest holiday of the summer travel season with six million more Americans traveling than Memorial Day just two months ago,” AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said in Thursday’s statement.
Independence Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 13-year average of 38.9 million for this holiday with the largest share of travelers saying they plan to leave on July 3 and return on July 7.
Approximately 34.4 million people (84 percent) plan to hit the roads, according to AAA, with the average traveler expecting to travel on average 613 miles round-trip and spend $747 during their vacation.
AAA says gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in automobile travel this summer despite the fact that the national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.60, 10 cents higher than last year.
Air travel during the Independence Day holiday will see a slight increase, according to AAA, with at least three million leisure travelers flying into their destination.
Airfares also increased six percent with an average lowest round-trip fare costing travelers $228 as compared to $215 average in 2012, AAA says.
The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by rail, bus or watercraft.
Hotel rates at top-rated hotels are expected to increase about four percent with travelers spending on average $164 per night as compared to last year’s average of $158, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58, a 29-percent increase over last year’s average of $45.