Posts Tagged ‘Independence Day Travel Forecast’

Heather HunterOptimistic Americans dusting off credit cards for a Fourth of July vacation.

ORLANDO, Fla., (June 26, 2014) – 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 2 to Sunday, July 6.
Highlights from 2014 Independence Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Willingness to take on credit card debt, not an increase in income, is responsible for the increase in consumer spending.
  • Nearly five million more Americans are expected to travel for Independence Day than for Memorial Day.
  • 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.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to increase one 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.
  • Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are 15 percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are nine percent more.

Additional Resources

“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, with five million more Americans traveling compared to Memorial Day weekend,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “In line with tradition, most travelers are celebrating their newfound summer freedom with an all-American road trip.”

An increase in consumer spending is primarily due to increasing credit, rather than 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. In addition to consumer spending, a boost in consumer confidence and the employment outlook are driving more Americans to take a road trip.

“Steady improvement in the economy has spurred increased consumer confidence and spending,” continued Doney.  “Optimistic Americans are more willing to take on debt this year, dusting off their credit cards to pay for a much-needed Independence Day getaway.”

Travelers likely to pay most expensive Independence Day gas prices in six years

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 about 20 cents per gallon more expensive than the average on July 4, 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 higher crude oil costs as fighting intensifies in Iraq. AAA does not believe that high gas prices will have a significant impact on the number of people traveling, but it could result in some consumers cutting 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.

Travel expenses mixed

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase nine percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $178 per night compared to $164 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 15 percent with an average cost of $137 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58, 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, down from $228 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.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

Originally released June 20, 2013

Shorter holiday travel period expected to result in 0.8 percent fewer American travelers this year

ORLANDO, Fla.,  – AAA Travel projects 40.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 41.1 million people who traveled last year.  The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominantly due to a shorter holiday period. With the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday this year, the holiday period has returned to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday. Decade-high travel volume occurred in 2007 when 42.3 million Americans traveled and the holiday also fell on a Wednesday.  The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.

Additional Resources

“This year nearly 41 million Americans plan to celebrate the nation’s birthday with a getaway, a slight decline from last year,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.  “This projection is due to the calendar effect of one fewer day in the holiday period and economic growth that is not robust enough to offset the impact of the sequester and the effect of the end of the payroll tax cut on American families.”

Highlights from 2013 AAA Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Independence Day holiday travelers to total 40.8 million, a decrease of 0.8 percent from the 41.1 million who traveled last year
  • Eighty-four percent of travelers (34.4 million) to travel by automobile, a decrease of 0.7 percent  from 34.7 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase slightly to 3.07 million from 3.06 million in 2012
  • 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 depart on Wednesday, July 3
  • Sunday, July 7, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 38 percent planning to return that day
  • The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 613 miles and spend $747

“Independence Day is typically the busiest holiday of the summer travel season with six million more Americans traveling than Memorial Day just two months ago. The Fourth of July benefits from the fact that all schools across the nation are out of session, making it truly a time for family fun,” continued Darbelnet.

July 3 and 7 busiest travel days

This year 46 percent of intending travelers plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the holiday travel period (July 3-7), compared to 65 percent last year. The largest share of travelers (32 percent) on a single day will depart on July 3 and the largest share will return on July 7 (38 percent). Thirty-four percent intend to stretch their holiday vacation into the following week returning on or after Monday, July 8.

Automobile travel declines, remains dominant mode of transportation

Approximately 34.4 million people (84 percent) plan to drive to their destination, a decrease of 0.7 percent from the 34.7 million who drove last year.

“AAA also reminds drivers as they head out for the holiday that it is important to keep their mind on the task of driving,” said Darbelnet. “Mental distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them. It is not sufficient to have our hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, we also need our minds on driving.”

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in travel decisions this holiday. As of mid-June, prices were on average up two percent compared to the same time in 2012. Despite the slight increase compared to last year, prices remain below their highs of earlier this year. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.60, 10 cents higher than last year.

However, gas prices remain at a level most Americans consider too high. Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be “too high” when it reaches $3.44 per gallon, according to a new consumer index developed by AAA. Forty-six percent of adults believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.00 per gallon; 61 percent when it reaches $3.50 per gallon; and 90 percent when it reaches $4.00 per gallon. Sixty-two percent of Americans are offsetting high gas prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyle.

Air travel to increase slightly

More than 3.07 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase from last year’s 3.06 million air travelers.  The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance decreases, spending relatively unchanged

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be 613 miles, which is 110 miles less than last year’s average of 723 miles. The decline is likely reflective of the shorter holiday period.

Median spending during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be $747, compared to $749 last year. 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.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be 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).

Car rental and hotel rates and airfares rise

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase over 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. Airfares increased six percent with an average lowest round-trip rate of $228 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $215 last year.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel,  and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web 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. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight Independence Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Projected travel up 2.9 percent from Labor Day holiday weekend last year, highest travel volume expected since 2008 before the recession caused a retraction in Labor Day travel

ORLANDO, Fla., (August 21, 2012)AAA Travel projects 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year.  The total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high, and is the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast.  AAA’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday travel forecasts projected increases of 1.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. 

Despite a sluggish economy and recent rises in gas prices, the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and Americans’ unwavering desire to travel.  The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 30 to Monday, September 3. 

Additional Resources

“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume, it is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services.  “Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget.”    

The health of the travel industry is dependent upon discretionary spending and growth in travel has a positive effect on employment and the overall economy.  In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 7.6 million jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry.  The jobs total consists of 5.4 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs.

Impact of household finances on travel plans

A survey of intended travelers found that 66 percent said their current financial situation would

not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans.  Of the remaining 34 percent of travelers who said their current finances would impact their travel plans, 21 percent will economize in other areas, nine percent are planning to take a shorter trip, and the remaining four percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation.  The group of surveyed travelers who reported their intent to economize in other areas plan to reduce spending on shopping and sightseeing and will stay with friends and relatives instead of reserving a hotel room.  Conversely, changes in the expected primary activities of travelers this Labor Day holiday include increases in entertainment like nightlife, sporting events, concerts and golf.         

Automobile travel up 3.1 percent  

Approximately 28.2 million people (85 percent of holiday travelers) will make their Labor Day holiday journey by automobile, considered the most convenient mode of travel for many Americans.  This is a 3.1 percent increase over the 27.3 million people who took to the nation’s roadways in 2011. 

Number of air travelers expected to increase by 3.7 percent, airfares decrease

Labor Day holiday air travel has been fairly consistent since the recession bounce back began for the travel industry in 2010.  About 2.55 million leisure travelers (eight percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the Labor Day weekend, a 3.7 percent increase over 2011 when 2.46 million traveled by air.  In 2010, 2.6 million chose to fly to their Labor Day vacation destinations which began the steady recovery from the decade-low 1.5 million air travelers in 2009. Airfares decreased four percent over last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $197 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. 

The remaining seven percent of Labor Day holiday travelers are expected to use other modes of transportation, including cruise ship, rail and bus travel accounting for 2.3 million Americans – a nominal 0.2 percent decrease over last year.            

Average travel distance increases as most travelers prefer shorter trips, spending up  

According to a survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 626 miles, up slightly from last year’s average 608 miles.  Despite the longer average travel distance, most holiday travelers (54 percent) will be taking shorter-distance trips, between 100 and 400 round-trip miles.  The increase in expected air travel is a contributing factor to the slight lift in the average travel distance as air trips typically span longer distances than automobile trips, many over 1,500 round-trip miles. 

Median spending is expected to be $749, a small increase over the $702 median spending of intended holiday travelers in 2011.

Travelers to experience increase in hotel rates, decrease in car rental rates

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Labor Day holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $148 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay six percent more at an average cost of $117 per night.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $39, a ten percent decrease from one year ago.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

National gas prices have fluctuated and been particularly sensitive to region variations throughout much of the year.  On April 5 and 6, motorists experienced a year-to-date peak average price of $3.94 per gallon for regular gasoline.  The current national average price of regular gasoline for August 20, 2012 is $3.72 per gallon, which is 22 cents less than the April peak and 14 cents more than last year’s price on August 20.      

Gasoline purchases are critical expenditures in most household budgets, yet 66 percent of intended holiday travelers said their current household finances would not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans.  As the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches, increases in gas prices could cause some travelers to alter their plans.  Conversely, falling prices could spur last-minute travel increases. 

Barring any significant unforeseen events such as severe hurricanes, geopolitical incidents or dramatic nationwide price increases, gas prices are not expected to have a major impact on Labor Day holiday weekend travel. Historically, incidents that impact regional gas prices and regional travel have not impacted nationwide holiday travel.       

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York and the award-winning Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and nearby member discounts and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web 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 Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla.,  June 23, 2010

Travel by automobile continues to be dominant mode of transportation as AAA expects more emergency roadside assistance calls than any other summer holiday

Cynthia BroughAAA today projected the number of Americans traveling this Fourth of July holiday weekend will increase 17.1 percent from 2009, with approximately 34.9 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 29.8 million Americans traveled during the same period. The 2010 Fourth of July holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.

“While financial markets continue to have volatility related to the European debt crisis, the landscape of the U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago,” said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services. “It is encouraging to see such growth this summer as Americans take to the road to visit family, friends and great vacation destinations.”

MacDonell added, “AAA travel agents continue to report double-digit increases in the percentage of travelers making advanced reservations for cruises, and vacation packages and online hotel bookings via AAA.com are up over last year — all of which are positive signs pointing to an increase in the number of Americans traveling this Fourth of July holiday.”

As the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico continues, the situation is changing rapidly and the impact on tourism in the Gulf Coast region is still unknown. However, currently most beaches remain open and while AAA offices have reported member inquiries regarding travel to the Gulf Coast, they have not experienced widespread cancellations. Additionally, travelers visit these communities for reasons other than boating and swimming including visiting family and friends, state and national parks, golfing, shopping, dining and nightlife. Therefore, AAA is projecting an increase in travel in states in the Gulf Coast region as well.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2010 Fourth of July holiday forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.

Air and car trips to increase

Trips by automobile are expected to increase in popularity with 90 percent of travelers, or 31.4 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 17.7 percent from last Fourth of July when 26.7 million travelers went by motor vehicle. AAA expects the national average price of self-serve regular gasoline to be between $2.70-$2.80 per gallon during this Fourth of July holiday weekend. Leisure air travel also is expected to grow slightly with 1.56 million holiday flyers expected. This would be an increase of 8.2 percent from one year ago when 1.44 million flew. Trips by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft, will be the dominant means of travel used by six percent of all travelers.

AAA also cautions that the Fourth of July marks the busiest travel holiday for emergency roadside services calls. As temperatures rise, vehicles are put to the test. Without preventive maintenance the summer heat increases the likelihood of a motorist experiencing a vehicle failure, leaving them unexpectedly – and dangerously – stranded on the side of the road. AAA expects it will come to the aid of 520,000 stranded motorists during the holiday weekend. Batteries can be especially affected by heat and AAA anticipates it will replace 30,000 auto batteries on the roadside and jump start an additional 60,000 during the holiday weekend. The nation’s largest motor club also will aid 85,000 motorists locked out of their vehicles and change 75,000 flat tires.

To decrease the likelihood of break down, AAA recommends motorists have their vehicle serviced regularly based on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and identify a quality repair shop. AAA offers a free public service to help consumers find quality auto repair facilities that meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can either look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA Approved shop online at AAA.com/repair.

AAA also helps motorists prepare for the heavy toll summer heat can have on a vehicle batteries with its Mobile Battery Service. In many areas, AAA Mobile Battery technicians will travel to members to test their vehicle’s battery and ascertain if it’s near the end of its life, in need of replacement and susceptible to failure in the summer heat.

Median spending down; average distance traveled will be 617 miles

The average distance traveled by Americans this Fourth of July holiday weekend (617 miles) is forecast to be approximately the same as one year ago (614 miles). Median spending is estimated to be $644 this Fourth of July, nearly $50 less than last year when median spending was estimated at $693. Fifty-eight percent of Americans will spend time with friends and relatives over the holiday.

Airfares, hotel and rental car rates increase over holiday compared to last year

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares over the Fourth of July holiday weekend are expected to increase 13 percent from last year as air passengers will pay a lowest average round-trip fare of $192 per ticket. However, it is important to note that fares for the prior year dropped 16 percent and, in spite of the increase in 2010, fares are still below the average from two years ago. Weekend daily car rental rates will increase four percent to an average of $54. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are also expected to increase four percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $137 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels will pay only one percent more at an average cost of $102 per night.

AAA offers a variety of travel planning tools including free TourBook travel guides and maps for members and the TripTik® Travel Planner, available free to all travelers at AAA.com. Three iPhone apps offer access to AAA products and services on the go. The AAA TripTik Mobile app provides gas prices and information on hotels, restaurants and attractions. The AAA Discounts app, which has been downloaded more than 800,000 times, uses GPS technology to acquire a user’s location and displays nearby AAA Show Your Card & Save® locations. With AAA Roadside, AAA members requiring emergency service can quickly send their location, vehicle description and specific breakdown details directly to AAA. The free apps are available for download at the iTunes Store.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Orlando, Fl – 6/22/2011

Despite recent declines, the sustained period of expensive fuel prices about one dollar more than a year ago will offset year-over-year improvement within other economic indicators.

AAA forecasts 39 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 2.5 percent 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, AAA Travel Services. “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 significantly.”

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. As a result, the percentage of travelers with a household income of $50,000 or less is expected to decrease from 41 percent to 33 percent, while travelers with a household income of more than $100,000 are expected to increase to 35 percent from 26 percent.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2011 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.

Other Resources:

Automobile travel down three percent, but five out of six travelers will drive to destination

Approximately 32.8 million people plan to travel by automobile and that’s 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 percent of holiday travelers) despite gasoline prices about a dollar per gallon more expensive than a year ago in many parts of the country. If current market conditions persist, AAA expects the national 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 plans

A survey of intended travelers found that 56 percent said rising gasoline prices would not impact their travel plans. For the remaining 44 percent 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.

Travelers concerned about how fuel prices will impact their travel budget can use AAA’s free, GPS-based TripTik® Mobile application to compare prices for all grades of gasoline at nearby stations. TripTik Mobile is available for iPhone and Android devices. Travelers may also use TripTik Mobile to get maps and directions, AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotel and restaurant information complete with AAA inspector notes, plus details about attractions, events and Approved Auto Repair facilities.

Number of air travelers expected to increase by nine percent

A little more than three million leisure travelers (eight percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the holiday weekend, a nine percent increase from last year’s 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 ten – 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 eight percent 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 AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Independence Day holiday airfares are expected to be 11 percent more than last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $213 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase three percent 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 eight percent more at an average cost of $110 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $56, a three percent increase over a year ago.

Average travel distance down seven percent; median spending up 25 percent 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 seven percent less than last year’s average travel distance of 617 miles. Median spending is expected to be $807, an increase of 25 percent from $644 last year.

AAA offers mobile and digital travel planning resources

For Independence Day getaways and vacation planning, travelers may use AAA’s digital eTourBook guides for smartphones and ereader devices. Each new digital guide book highlights a top North American travel destination, complete with listings for AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants; AAA Editor’s Picks for attractions, events and nightlife; and other proprietary information available only through AAA. Members can download the 40 available titles at AAA.com/ebooks and sync them to their device for on-the-go use.

AAA makes trip planning tools accessible on the mobile devices travelers use every day. Along with the TripTik Mobile app, AAA offers iPhone and Android versions of AAA Discounts and AAA Roadside. Using GPS technology, AAA Discounts displays nearby locations that offer AAA members a Show Your Card & Save discount and AAA Roadside transmits a user’s location and details about a vehicle breakdown when a member requests AAA Roadside Assistance. Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is needed to take advantage of the available AAA member features and benefits.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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