Summer is officially upon us, and for many, that means hitting the open road with friends and family. Independence Day is one of the bigger travel days of the summer, along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, and this year is expected see an uptick in holiday travel. A report from AAA indicates an estimated 41 million people will leave home for the holiday weekend, making a trip of at least 50 miles. That number is an increase of 1.9 percent over last year.
One major takeaway from AAA’s projections is that the overwhelming majority, more than 80 percent, will be traveling by car. Even with gas prices higher than they were last year, more Americans are packing up the car and hitting the road. While it makes sense for most people to take a small road trip, especially within a range of 50 to 100 miles, an increased impact on consumers’ wallets would lead most to expect a decrease in holiday travel.
But that’s not the case.
What can be concluded from the numbers is that Americans are more confident in the economy than they have been over the past several years, with increases in employment levels and an added itch to spend leading to a Fourth of July boom for hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related industries. Car rental rates are roughly where they were last year, at an average of $58, and airfare has prices have dropped 5 percent. Hotels, on the other hand, are up in price, between 9 and 15 percent for AAA Two and Three-Diamond properties.