AAA Forecasts July 4 Travel to Be Busiest Holiday Weekend Ever

MINNEAPOLIS, June 28 /PRNewswire/ — More Americans will travel this Fourth of July holiday than have ever traveled for a holiday weekend. AAA estimates that 40.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.8 percent increase from the 39.2 million who traveled last year.

Approximately 33.9 million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.6 percent increase from the 33.1 million who drove a year ago. Another 4.6 million (11 percent) plan to travel by airplane, up 4.2 percent from the 4.4 million that flew last Fourth of July. A projected 1.8 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus, or other mode of transportation, up from about 1.7 million a year ago.

“This not only will be the most heavily traveled Fourth of July ever, but this long weekend actually will put more American vacationers on the road than even the granddaddy of holiday travel weekends — Thanksgiving,” said Dawn Duffy, AAA spokesperson. “Higher prices for gasoline and increased competition for hotel rooms will do little to reduce the amount of traffic on our roads and airways.”

Holiday auto travelers will find Minnesota gas prices currently averaging $2.14 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, up 16 cents from a month ago and 33 cents higher than a year ago.

AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows other vacation costs up somewhat from Fourth of July 2004, too. Hotel rates are up slightly, averaging 0.7 percent higher for AAA-rated Three Diamond hotels for the 20 top destinations used in the comparison. Airfares are down negligibly, at a decrease of 0.4 percent. The one marked increase is in car rental rates, which are up 12.8 percent.

The greatest number of Fourth of July auto travelers will originate in the Southeast with 8.6 million, followed by the West with 8.4 million; Midwest, 6.5 million; Northeast, 5.7 million; and Great Lakes, 4.7 million.

The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.7 million, followed by the Midwest and Southeast at 800,000 each; Northeast, 700,000; and Great Lakes, 600,000.

Cities tied with towns/rural areas atop the list of preferred destinations this holiday with 23 percent of travel volume for each. Watery fun came in next, with ocean/beach at 18 percent and lake areas at 14 percent. Mountain areas, 7 percent came next, followed by theme/amusement parks, 5 percent, and state/national parks, 4 percent. Another 4 percent responded with other, and 3 percent said they didn’t know.

AAA suggests that you book a hotel room now, as 37 percent of the total July Fourth travelers expect to stay at a hotel/motel and 31 percent of travelers expect to stay with friends or relatives. Camper/trailer/RV/tent, 14 percent, placed next, followed by own cabin/condo, 9 percent, and rented cabin/condo 7 percent. Another 2 percent responded with other; no overnight stay, 1 percent; and didn’t know, 2 percent.

Research for holiday travel is based on a national telephone survey of 1,300 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America, which conducts special research for AAA.

AAA offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to more than 45 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA Minnesota/Iowa is part of The Auto Club Group, with 4.1 million members in eight Midwest states. AAA Minneapolis serves nearly 175,000 members in Hennepin County.

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