AAA predicts decline in holiday travel this Fourth of July

For the first time this decade, AAA estimates a decline in the number of Americans traveling 50 miles or more from home during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. AAA projects 40.45 million Americans will travel during the holiday weekend, down 1.3 percent, or nearly 550,000 Americans, from the 41 million who traveled last year. This is the second consecutive major travel holiday where a year-to-year decrease has been forecast

More than 34.2 million Americans plan to travel by automobile, a 1.2 percent decrease from the 34.6 million people who drove a year ago. Approximately 4.54 million Americans expect to travel by airplane, down 2.3 percent from the 4.64 million who flew last year. Another 1.7 million plan to travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation.

Locally, AAA Washington members and clients have told us that their top driving destinations for the Fourth of July holiday are the Oregon and Washington coasts, British Columbia and Yellowstone National Park and those hopping on an airplane are headed to Disneyland, California and Mexico. In talking with members about their summer travel plans, AAA’s Auto Travel Counselors report that members are on the lookout for deals, staying closer to home, taking fewer trips and generally more budget minded, but most are still traveling.

“Clearly gas prices are continuing to take a toll on travelers’ budgets, but the travel industry is responding with discounts, promotions and other incentives to get people traveling this holiday,” said Janet Ray, AAA Washington spokesperson. “For instance travelers should look out for breakfast promotions, kids-eat-free deals, car rental discounts and, of course, always ask about AAA member discounts.”

Automobile travelers across much of the country will have to contend with gasoline prices at or above $4 a gallon. The national average for self-serve regular is $4.07 a gallon. That is 13 cents more than last month and $1.09 higher than a year ago. In Washington, the average price for self-serve regular is $4.34 a gallon, 31 cents more than last month and $1.23 higher than a year ago. In Idaho, the average price for self-serve regular is $4.08 a gallon, 19 cents more than last month and 93 cents higher than a year ago.

AAA’s Leisure Travel Index (LTI), which is based on available rates this holiday, reveals that Fourth of July holiday travelers can expect increases in travel costs when compared to last year. Airfares for the holiday weekend have increased 13 percent over last year. In addition, AAA advises travelers that many airlines now charge fees for checked baggage and other services that were previously complimentary. Hotel rates for AAA 3 Diamond hotels are unchanged from last year’s Fourth of July holiday travel period. AAA’s LTI shows an average increase in car rental prices of 12 percent. However, car rental rates vary from location to location, with some cities in AAA’s index showing significant increases, while others show decreases compared to a year ago. AAA’s index for car rentals is based on the average lowest intermediate size car daily rate in 20 U.S. airport locations. The rates do not include sales tax, insurance or other miscellaneous charges.

Research for Fourth of July weekend holiday travel projections are derived from the Travel Industry Association’s (TIA) Holiday Travel Forecast Model. The model was developed based on consumer travel intentions and TIA’s quarterly travel forecast data. The travel intentions data are collected through an online survey of over 2,000 adults nationwide, supplemented by an additional 6,500 Americans surveyed from the top 10 states of travel origin in the United States. Historical travel volume and other economic data such as GDP, disposable income, employment and travel costs (including fuel

prices) are also incorporated into the model. Analysis of the data and the forecasts are produced by the Travel Industry Association, which conducts special research for AAA.

AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904. The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 960,000 members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s 26 offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.