Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- AAA is estimating that 39 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, a 2.5 percent decline from the 40 million people who traveled during the same period in 2010.
The Fourth of July travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
“Travel during last year’s Fourth of July weekend represented a strong rebound of 10.2 million travelers, so this slight decline is not surprising,” said Tom Chestnut, President and CEO of AAA Western and Central New York. “The surge in travelers last year was based on pent-up demand and lower fuel prices. This year, higher fuel prices and uncertainty about the economy may have travelers proceeding cautiously or waiting to vacation in the future.”
Automobile travel down three percent:
Approximately 32.8 million people plan to travel by automobile, 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 with 84 percent of all travelers hitting the roads. The current national average price for regular gasoline is $3.62 per gallon. As of this morning, the average statewide price in New York is $3.91. In the Buffalo/Niagara region, the average price is $3.88, $1.02 more than lost year, but down 15 cents from a month ago.
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 ten will economize in other areas and three out of ten are planning to take a shorter trip or travel by a different mode of transportation.
Air travel up nine percent:
Approximately three million, or eight percent of holiday travelers, will fly during the travel period, 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 sharp declines in 2008 and 2009, the lowest years for air travel since 2001.
The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.
Travel costs increase:
Airfares for the Fourth of July weekend are expected to be 11 percent higher than last year with the average lowest round-trip rate of $213. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase three percent from a year ago to an average of $147 per night compared to $143 last year. AAA Two Diamond hotels are eight percent more at an average cost of $110 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $56, a three percent increase compared to a year ago.
Travel distance down, spending up:
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance Americans expect to travel over the Fourth of July travel period is expected to be 573 miles, seven percent less than last year’s average travel distance of 617 miles. Median spending for the weekend is expected to be $807, an increase of 25 percent from $644 last year.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research conducted by IHS Global Insight, a Boston-based economic research and consulting firm. AAA teamed with IHS Global Insight in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.