The American Automobile Association (AAA) forecasts 39
million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during
the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 2.5% decline from the
40 million people who traveled a year ago.
The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as
Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
AAA is projecting a slight decline in the
number of Independence Day travelers mainly due to fuel prices
being approximately one dollar per gallon higher than last
year, said Glen MacDonell, director of AAAs travel
Increased fuel costs are also responsible for a shift
in the demographics of the typical Independence Day traveler as
higher prices impact lower income households more
The amount of money spent each month on gasoline is unlikely
to vary much across household income groups. However, as a
share of total spending, fuel is obviously going to consume a
larger share of the budget for lower income households, the
As a result, the percentage of travelers with a household
income of $50,000 or less is expected to decrease from 41% to
33%, while travelers with a household income of more than
$100,000 are expected to increase to 35% from 26%.
AAAs projections are based on economic
forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.
Automobile travel down 3%, but five of six travelers
will drive to destination
Approximately 32.8 million people plan to travel by
automobile. Thats a decline of almost a million auto
travelers from the 33.7 million who drove last year.
Automobile travel remains the dominant mode of
transportation (84% of holiday travelers) despite gasoline
prices about a dollar per gallon more expensive than a year ago
in many parts of the country.
AAA said it expects the US average price for regular
gasoline to remain between $3.60 and $3.70 per gallon during
the Independence Day holiday weekend.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel
A survey of intended travelers found that 56% said rising
gasoline prices would not impact their travel plans. For the
remaining 44% who said rising gas prices would impact their
travel plans, seven out of 10 will economize in other areas and
three out of 10 are planning to take a shorter trip or travel
by a different mode of transportation.
Number of air travelers expected to increase by
A little more than three million leisure travelers (8% of
holiday travelers) will fly during the holiday weekend, a 9%
increase from last years 2.75 million air travelers. This
increase continues a rebound in air travel that began in 2010
following the lowest years for air travel in the past decade -
2009 and 2008.
The rising cost of gasoline is a contributing factor to the
increase in air travel, as the increasing cost of travel by car
is making air travel a more viable option for some travelers
despite recent increases in air fares. The remaining 8% of
holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes,
including rail, bus and watercraft.
Travelers to experience increases in airfares, hotel
rates and car rental rates
According to AAAs leisure travel index, Independence
Day holiday airfares are expected to be 11% more than last
year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $213 for the
top 40 US air routes.
Hotel rates for AAA three-diamond lodgings are expected to
increase 3% from a year ago, with travelers spending an average
of $147 per night compared to $143 last year.
Travelers planning to stay at AAA two-diamond hotels can
expect to pay 8% more, at an average cost of $110 per
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $56, a 3%
increase over a year ago.
Average travel distance down 7%; median spending up
25% from last year
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average
distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day
holiday weekend is expected to be 573 miles, which is 7% less
than last years average travel distance of 617 miles.
Median spending is expected to be $807, an increase of 25%
from $644 last year.