MADISON -- AAA projects nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend. This represents the highest Fourth of July travel volume on record and a half million more travelers than last year.
The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
A press release from AAA indicates that U.S. drivers have saved about $20 billion on gasoline so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, which has made travel more affordable than in recent years. A more confident consumer and rising economic activity also are offsetting a cooling labor market to help boost holiday travel.
Low gas prices drive increase in auto travel this Independence Day
Eighty-four percent of holiday travelers – more than 36 million people – will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year, with 3.3 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day.
"The peak travel times for motorists will be Friday and Monday afternoons," said Nick Jarmusz Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "The best times to leave will be in the morning, because the roads will be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely."
Cruise bookings boost “other modes” of transportation
Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses; will increase 2 percent to 3.3 million travelers. Much of that growth is not being seen as much in bus or train, but attributed to increased cruise bookings. AAA’s holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.
Drivers to pay lowest Independence Day gas prices in more than a decade
Low gas prices are motivating millions of Americans to travel this Independence Day. Despite recent seasonal increases and supply disruptions in the Midwest, gasoline prices remain well below recent years. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005. Motorists can see and compare the latest gas prices from across the country at the newly redesigned GasPrices.AAA.com.
"The average motorist has saved about $100 on gasoline so far this year compared to the first six months of 2015," said Jarmusz. "These low gas prices, combined with rising wages, are helping boost disposable income, making travel more affordable. Gas prices for the rest of the year are forecast to remain lower than last year, unless oil prices take an unexpected upward turn."
Airfares and hotel rates lower than last Independence Day
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be nine percent less this Independence Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $207. Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.
"With more than 3.3 million people flying this Independence Day weekend, the airports will be busy and airport security lines may be longer than usual," said Jarmusz. "Travelers should arrive at least two hours early in order to make their flights. To expedite the process, AAA recommends travelers enroll in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry."
More than 370,000 Independence Day motorists to request roadside assistance
AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists during the Independence Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Download the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway
Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.