MANATEE – AAA projects 41.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day, the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase from the 41.6 million people who traveled last year.
The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as July 1-5.
“Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, because families can take extended vacations without worrying about rushing their kids back for school," said Brent Stahlheber Sr. of AAA - The Auto Club Group. "This Independence Day will see the most travelers since the Great Recession, which will continue to stimulate the economy and the travel industry as a whole."
Rising income, driven by a strong employment market, is prompting more Americans to take a holiday trip this year. Despite recent seasonal increases, gas prices remain well below year-ago levels, which has helped boost Americans’ disposable income.
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“Although some consumers are using their recent savings on gas to pay down debt and save, overall, Americans are planning to travel in record numbers,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “Independence Day gas prices are expected to be the lowest in at least five years, which is great news for the nearly 85 percent of travelers who plan to drive.”
Highlights from 2015 Independence Day Travel Forecast
-- Drivers will likely pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices in five years. The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Florida was $2.70 Wednesday or 90 cents lower than the average price for Independence Day last year ($3.60).
-- More than 84 percent of travelers (35.5 million) will go by automobile, an increase of 0.7 percent from last Independence Day.
-- Holiday air travel is expected to increase 1.5 percent to 3.2 million leisure travelers.
-- Other modes of transportation will increase 0.5 percent to 3.2 million - 3,000 fewer passengers than air travel.
Airfares are up 6 percent compared with 2014. Hotel rates are forecast to be -9 percent higher than 2014.
Nearly 85 percent of travelers (35.5 million) will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 0.7 percent. Holiday air travel is expected to increase 1.5 percent to 3.21 million leisure travelers. Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 0.5 percent this Independence Day, to 3.2 million.
AAA expects to rescue nearly 360,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance when needed.