AAA is projecting that 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 1.9 percent increase from the 40.3 million who traveled last year, and a nearly 14 percent increase compared to the recent Memorial Day weekend.
According to AAA Southern New England, more than eight out of ten (34.8 million) will choose to travel by automobile, the highest level since 2007.
The New England region is expected to see an even higher percentage increase in travelers, up 2.5 percent overall from last year and 2.9 percent more by car.
“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, with more Americans traveling compared to Memorial Day weekend,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “In line with tradition, most travelers are celebrating their newfound summer freedom with an all-American road trip.”
The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is currently around $3.75 per gallon, about 15 cents higher than a year ago, and with some degree of uncertainty due to unrest in Iraq. Prices locally have risen about five cents per gallon over the last 10 days, based on concerns about oil producing operations in Iraq.
As to why prices haven’t risen more sharply, analysts point to strong global supply of oil as well as the fact the majority of Iraq’s oil production is in the southern part of the country, away from where the unrest is taking place. Most decisions on travel have already been made, and AAA doesn’t expect prices to have any significant impact on Fourth of July plans.
Even with the large number of auto travelers, travel by air is also expected to increase, by 1.1 percent, with nearly 7.6 percent of travelers taking to the skies. Holiday air travel has been increasing slowly since 2011.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider first 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.