Good morning, readers.
Auto Club AAA predicts we’ll travel 2.5 percent less this Fourth of July, thanks to still-high fuel prices. Here’s a statement from the AAA received this morning. What are you doing for the Fourth? Rachel Pritchett
Bellevue, Wash. (June 22, 2011) – AAA forecasts 39 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 2.5 percent decline from the 40 million people who traveled a year ago. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
AAA projects a slight decline in the number of Independence Day travelers mainly due to fuel prices. Travel by automobile is down slightly, but air travel is up. The rising cost of gasoline is a contributing factor to the increase in air travel, as the increasing cost of travel by car is making air travel a more attractive option for some travelers despite recent increases in air fares.
Automobile travel down, impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
Approximately 32.8 million people plan to travel by automobile and that’s a decline of three percent, or almost a million auto travelers, from the 33.7 million who drove last year. Automobile travel remains the dominant mode of transportation (84 percent of holiday travelers) and this year’s high gasoline prices, about 90 cents higher than a year ago nationally, are the main reason for the decline.
Currently, the average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in Washington state is $3.87 per gallon, up 89 cents compared to last year, but down 11 cents from a month ago. Gas prices are up 78 cents in Idaho from a year ago, but down 7 cents since one month ago, to $3.68 per gallon. Nationally, the average price is $3.63 per gallon, up 90 cents compared to last year, down 21 cents in the past month.
A survey of Americans who intended to travel 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 10 will economize in other areas and three out of 10 are planning to take a shorter trip or travel by a different mode of transportation. Travelers concerned about how fuel prices will impact their travel budget can use AAA’s free, GPS-based TripTik® Mobile application to compare prices for all grades of gasoline at nearby stations.
Number of air travelers expected to increase by nine percent
Approximately 3.02 million leisure travelers (eight percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the holiday weekend, 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 the lowest years for air travel (2009 and 2008) in the past decade. The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.
Travelers to experience increases in airfares, hotel rates and car rental rates
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Independence Day holiday airfares are expected to be 11 percent higher than last year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $213 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase three percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $147 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay eight percent more at an average cost of $110 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $56, a three percent increase over a year ago.
Average travel distance down seven percent; median spending up 25 percent from last year
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average
distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday
weekend is expected to be 573 miles, which is seven percent less
than last year’s average travel distance of 617 miles. Median
spending is expected to be $807, an increase of 25 percent from
$644 last year.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2011 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.