1.4 Million Plan July 4th Travel, Reports AAA Michigan

Jun 19, 2012, 11:15 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 1.4 million Michigan residents will travel on vacation during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, up some 16 percent from last year and the highest number of projected state travelers since 2008, reports AAA Michigan.

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Nationally, AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, up 4.9 percent from last year. The Fourth of July holiday travel period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.

Since July 4 falls on a Wednesday this year, the calendar plays a key role in driving holiday travel volume. The mid-week holiday expands the travel period to six days and provides the option of including a weekend and two week days on either side of the holiday. When asked about their travel, 54 percent of people intending to travel this holiday plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the work-week that includes July 4. Twenty-five percent plan to depart on Friday, June 29, while 16 percent plan to travel starting Saturday, June 30.

"Travel will be up in Michigan thanks to a pent-up demand for travel, a mid-week holiday and stable gas prices," said AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner. "This is the second summer holiday this year where travelers indicated a determination to travel – but keeping an eye on economizing while they travel."

In Michigan, the July 4th holiday period is typically the busiest time of year for family auto travel. While travel volumes will be up from last year, the manner in which state residents will travel remains the same – an estimated 87 percent of travelers will go by vehicle – compared to 84 percent nationally – with five percent flying and eight percent going by bus or train.

Those traveling by vehicle will find gas prices on par with last year – $3.73 (on June 19), compared to $3.74 last year.

The average distance traveled by Americans this Fourth of July holiday period is expected to be 723 miles, up 150 miles from last year's 573 miles.  The increase represents more people traveling by air and residents taking advantage of the longer holiday to travel further by vehicle.  Median spending is estimated to be $749, down seven percent – another indication travelers are looking to economize while still enjoying the holiday. Many travelers surveyed said they would stay with friends and family and would sightsee at outdoor events.  State campgrounds and resort areas will be busy this holiday.  Those who do stay at AAA Three Diamond lodgings will find prices averaging $164 per night, up four percent. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $40, down nine percent from last year.

This holiday weekend, AAA Michigan will again partner with the Michigan State Police (MSP) in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort).  Yellow banners will be posted at rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments. 

During last year's July 4th holiday period, eight people died in eight fatal crashes. Three of the deaths were alcohol-related.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research conducted by IHS Global Insight. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 July 4th holiday forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.