Optimistic Americans are dusting off credit cards, helping to boost overall holiday travel volume 1.9% over last year
Tampa, FL – AAA Travel projects 41 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 1.9 percent increase from the 40.3 million people who traveled last year and a nearly 14 percent increase compared to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The majority of travelers will be celebrating their freedom with a road trip, with more than eight in 10 (34.8 million) choosing to travel by automobile, the highest level since 2007.
The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 2nd to Sunday, July 6th.
“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “About five million more Americans travel for this holiday compared to Memorial or Labor Day weekends. Traditionally, the majority of those celebrating our nation’s independence take a road trip.”
Highlights from 2014 Independence Day Travel Forecast include:
- Travel volume for Independence Day has grown four out of the past five years and is expected to be more than six percent higher than the average of the past 10 years.
- Willingness to take on credit card debt, not an increase in income, is responsible for the increase in consumer spending that is spurring the rise in overall travel.
- Nearly five million more Americans are expected to travel for Independence Day than for Memorial Day.
- Holiday air travel is expected to increase 1 percent to 3.1 million travelers from 3.07 million last year.
- Travelers will encounter airfares five percent lower than last year and car rental costs that remain consistent with last year at $58.00.
- Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are 15 percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are nine percent more.
|National & State Numbers||Auto Travel||Air Travel||Other Travel||Total Projected Travelers|
|Nationwide||34.8 million||3.1 million||3.1 million||41 million|
Economic improvement spurs travel growth
“Steady improvement in the economy along with increased consumer spending and confidence are the main factors driving more Americans to take a trip, Jenkins said. “Consumer spending is expected to rise 4.2 percent, because of increasing credit not rising incomes. Consumers have been hesitant to add to their credit card balances the past several years, but continued improvements in the employment picture and rising home values means they are starting to feel more comfortable taking on debt.”
Automobile is preferred mode of transportation
“Consumers are still mindful of their personal finances,” continued Jenkins. “Auto travel is the best option for controlling expenses. It allows travelers the most flexibility in trip length and the option of making last minute changes.”
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
AAA expects the majority of U.S. drivers likely will pay the highest gas prices for Independence Day since 2008. Today’s national average price of gas is 20 cents per gallon more expensive than the average on July 4th, 2013, which was $3.48 per gallon. In recent years gas prices have declined in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, but this has not occurred this summer due to high crude oil costs resulting from violence in Iraq.
“Current gas prices are still cheaper than this year’s peak price and unlikely to deter people from traveling,” Jenkins continued. “Many travel plans have already been made, and budgets set aside. In some cases, consumers will reallocate their budgets and cut back on dining, shopping or other trip activities.”
AAA provides the latest gas prices for the nation, states and metro areas at FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.
|Gas Prices||Current||July 4, 2013||2014 Peak Price|
Air travel increases 1 percent
Nearly 7.6 percent of travelers will fly to their destination. That is roughly even with last year’s share, but significantly higher than the 4.8 percent of travelers who flew in 2009 following the economic downturn. Holiday air travel has slowly increased since 2011, even as income growth has stagnated. Automobile remains the preferred mode of transportation due to flexibility and increased airfares.
Travel expenses mixed
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58.00, the same as last year. Airfares have declined five percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $215.00, down from $228.00 last year.
AAA offers digital travel planning resources
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.
The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for 10 popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. 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.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays.
AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. More information including an infographic for the AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Independence Day Travel Forecast can be found here.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.8 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.
ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 54 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.