AAA Travel projects that 40.8 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from home during the four-day Independence Day holiday. That’s a 0.8 percent decrease from the 41.1 million people who traveled last year. Even so, stock up on patience for traffic jams in popular getaway spots and the roads leading to them.
The anticipated decline in holiday travel is due mostly to a shorter holiday period than last year. This year, the Fourth of July is on a Thursday, for a four-day weekend. In 2012, it was on a Wednesday, and more people hit the road for a five-day escape.
Here are some other factoids from the 2013 AAA Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:
- Eighty-four percent of travelers (34.4 million) to travel by car, that’s down 0.7 percent from 34.7 million last year, even though gas prices are up two percent compared to the same time in 2012. However, gas prices are down from the high pint earlier this year. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.51, 15 cents higher than last year. Even so, going by car remains the dominant form of July Fourth holiday travel, ten times the number of us who are going somewhere by air.
Holiday air travel expected to increase slightly to 3.07 million from 3.06 million in 2012, despite higher airfare prices and more fees for everything from baggage to bottled water. The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are traveling another way, including rail, bus and watercraft.
- Independence Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 13-year average of 38.9 million for this holiday.
- The largest share of travelers (32 percent) will get going on Wednesday, July 3, and return home on Sunday, July 7, when 38 percent plan to return. that day. Thirty-four percent intend to stretch their holiday vacation and return on or after Monday, July 8. Lucky them.
- The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 613 miles and spend $747. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 29 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 20 percent on food and beverage and 22 percent on lodging.
The most popular holiday weekend activities are visiting with friends/family (57 percent), dining (49 percent) and shopping (44 percent). Other popular activities include going to the beach and sightseeing (36 percent) and 28 percent will celebrate the nation by visiting a national park or historic sites (21 percent). The AAA did not survey how many of us will be watching a fireworks display, which is odd, because fireworks are an integral part of the Fourth of July.
- According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are up four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average $164 per night compared to $158 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels are expected to increase two percent with an average cost of $119 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58, 29 percent more than last year’s average of $45.
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