AAA: Fourth of July travel rises 1.9% – USA TODAY

Spurred on by a renewed willingness to take on credit card debt, 41 million people will hit the road and take to the skies for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to auto club AAA.

That would represent a 1.9% increase over the 40.3 million who traveled last Independence Day. More than 8 in 10 travelers, 34.8 million, will travel by automobile, the highest level since the pre-recession holiday in 2007.

“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, with 5 million more Americans traveling compared to Memorial Day (2014) weekend,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s chief operating officer.

AAA defines the Independence Day holiday travel period as Wednesday, July 2, to Sunday, July 6. Air travel over that period is expected to grow 1% to 3.1 million travelers from 3.07 million last year.

Travelers will find airfares 5% lower on average than a year ago, rental car costs about the same as last year and hotel rates 15% higher for AAA Two Diamond hotels and 9% higher for AAA Three Diamond hotels, AAA says.

Rental car giant Enterprise Holdings, owner of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car, has seen an 11% year-over-year spike in advance airport reservations ahead of the holiday weekend, the company says. Enterprise Rent-A-Car neighborhood locations are reporting double-digit growth in reservations.

Most travelers will pay more for gas than for any Independence Day holiday since 2008. The national average price for a gallon of regular today is about 20 cents a gallon more than the average on July 4, 2013. In years past, gas prices have dropped in the weeks leading up to the holiday but that hasn’t happened this year because of higher crude oil costs related to the intensifying situation in Iraq, AAA says.

The auto club does not expect the higher gas prices to significantly dampen holiday travel. People are simply whipping out the plastic. Consumers who’ve been hesitant to add to their credit card balances in recent years are taking comfort from an improving employment picture and rising home values, and are willing to take on more debt, AAA says.

AAA’s holiday travel projections are for people traveling at least 50 miles from home.

AAA: Fourth of July travel rises 1.9% – USA TODAY

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