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Traveling July 4th? You and Everyone Else

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It will be the busiest Independence Day of all time. Here’s what to expect.

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From a travel perspective, next week’s July 4th holiday will be the busiest Independence Day of all time—at least according to AAA.

In a forecast released last week, the travel organization predicted roughly 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home to celebrate the holiday, taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails, and waterways. This number would be more than 1.25 million over the total from 2016, which set a record. It also would beat the 39.3 million Americans who were expected to travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year, which was on track to be the highest volume for that weekend since 2005. What’s prompting these record numbers? For Bill Sutherland, AAA’s senior vice president of travel and publishing, it’s the economy. “Combined, strong employment, rising incomes, and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry,” he was quoted as saying in the release. 

Other factors include slightly lower gas prices and lower car rental rates. Lower airfares also will contribute; according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes should come in around 10 percent less this year than they did in 2016, with the average round-trip ticket for the Fourth of July holiday landing at $186.  

Overall, the 44.2 million number represents a 2.9 percent increase from last year’s total. Within that number, AAA has broken out some statistics worth noting: 

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-37.5 million Americans will drive to their destinations over the Independence Day holiday, also an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.

-3.4 million Americans will fly, an increase of 4.6 percent over 2016.

-Almost 3.3 million Americans will turn to other methods of transportation, including cruises, trains, and buses. This represents an increase of 1.4 percent from last year.

It’s worth noting that hotel rates appear not to be a factor in the Independence Day holiday travel bump; data indicate that average room rates will remain virtually unchanged for 2017 over 2016. That same Leisure Travel Index has the average AAA three-diamond-rated hotel costing $185 per night.

This year’s Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30th to Tuesday, July 4th.

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