Approximately 41 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the July 4 holiday weekend, according to AAA Travel.
The increase of 1.9 percent over the 40.3 million people who traveled last year and a nearly 14 percent increase compared to the Memorial Day holiday weekend is being met with higher prices at the gas pump.
More than eight in 10 (34.8 million) are choosing to travel by automobile, the highest level since 2007.
Here are highlights from holiday travel forecast from AAA New York:
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.
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.
"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 New York manager of media relations Robert Sinclair Jr. "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.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
The average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.66 for the first half of June, comparable to last year. At this time, many decisions on travel have already been made, and budgets set aside. A possible increase in gasoline prices due to events in Iraq leading up to the holiday weekend typically means consumers will allocate more of their budget towards travel expenses and cut back in other areas. The current price for a gallon of gas is $3.68 compared to $3.48 on July 4, 2013. In New York City, the current average is $4.06 per gallon, Nassau/Suffolk $4.03. Last year prices were $3.84 and $3.79 respectively.
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 New York provides automotive, travel and financial services to 1.6 million members in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Putnam, Herkimer, Chenango, Delaware, Schoharie, Otsego and Oneida Counties.
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