The Fourth of July is a time for fireworks, barbecues, and a visit to the beach. But it's also a big time for travel and it will be even bigger in 2012. This year, travel during the Fourth of July week and weekend is expected to increase.
According to AAA predictions, over 45 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for the Independence Day holiday. This would be a nearly 5 percent increase from last year.
The roads are expected to be extra busy over the holiday. A majority, or 85% of all holiday travelers will be traveling by car. AAA expects 35.5 million auto travelers to hit the road between July 3 and Jul 8 for the patriotic summer holiday. This is higher than the previous high auto travel volume of 35.1 million in 2007 and it is a 40 percent increase since 2009, which was hit by the recession.
Since this July 4 falls on a Wednesday, the travel period is increased to six days rather than the usual five and travelers can choose whether they want to make their holiday the weekend before or after.
"AAA's projection for a decade high number of Independence Day travelers is being fed by Americans' appetite for travel, a mid-week holiday and lower gas prices," said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services.
Lower gas prices are a major reason for the expected road travel increase. Since April, national gas prices are down 44 cents and the prices are 16 cents lower than last year. Travelers are expected to make their trips longer as 20 percent are projected to travel over 1,500 miles, which is a 10 perfcent increase from last year.
More travelers will also be taking to the skies for the holiday. Air travel is expected to rise by more than 9 percent from last year. AAA believes that 3.3 million people will choose air travel, which is the highest rate since 2004. In 2009, due to the recession, there were only 1.4 million air travelers.
Air travel will make up 8 percent of holiday travel and the remaining 8 percent will travel to train, bus and cruise ships.
Despite the increased travel, AAA says that travelers will be spending less than last year. The median spending in expected to be $749, or 7 percent less than 2011. However, hotel rates are up, so travelers using accommodations may be spending more than last year.