AURORA, Ill., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- AAA Chicago today projected the number of Americans traveling this Fourth of July holiday weekend will increase 17.1 percent from 2009, with approximately 34.9 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 29.8 million Americans traveled during the same period. The 2010 Fourth of July holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.
In Illinois, nearly 2 million people will travel for the holiday weekend, which is a 19.7 percent increase over 2009. Of those travelers, about 1.8 million will be driving and almost 48,000 will be flying to their destination. Gas prices across Illinois are averaging $2.87 per gallon, about the same as a year ago.
In Indiana, almost 790,000 people will travel for the holiday, up 19.5 percent from 2009. Just over 728,000 people will be driving and 19,000 will fly to their destinations. Gas prices are averaging $2.66, which is down 10 cents from 2009.
"The U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago," said AAA Chicago Regional President Brad Roeber. "It is encouraging to see such growth this summer as Americans take to the road to visit family, friends and great vacation destinations."
Car and air trips to increase
Nationally, trips by automobile are expected to increase in popularity with 90 percent of travelers, or 31.4 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 17.7 percent from last Fourth of July when 26.7 million travelers went by motor vehicle. AAA expects the national average price of self-serve regular gasoline to be about $2.75 per gallon during this Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Leisure air travel also is projected to grow slightly with 1.56 million holiday flyers expected. This would be an increase of 8.2 percent from one year ago when 1.44 million flew. Trips by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft, will be the dominant means of travel used by six percent of all travelers.
AAA also cautions that the Fourth of July marks the busiest travel holiday for emergency roadside services calls. As temperatures rise, vehicles are put to the test. To decrease the likelihood of break down, AAA recommends motorists have their vehicle serviced regularly based on the manufacturer's recommended schedule.
Median spending down; average distance traveled will be 617 miles
The average distance traveled by Americans this Fourth of July holiday weekend is forecast to be 617 miles, approximately the same as one year ago. Median spending is estimated to be $644 this Fourth of July, nearly $50 less than last year. Fifty-eight percent of Americans will spend time with friends and relatives over the holiday.
As the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico continues, the situation is changing rapidly and the impact on tourism in the Gulf Coast region is still unknown. However, currently most beaches remain open and while AAA offices have reported member inquiries regarding travel to the Gulf Coast, they have not experienced widespread cancellations.
Airfares, hotel and rental car rates increase over holiday compared to last year
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, airfares over the Fourth of July holiday weekend are expected to increase 13 percent from last year as air passengers will pay a lowest average round-trip fare of $192 per ticket. However, it is important to note that fares for the prior year dropped 16 percent and, in spite of the increase in 2010, fares are still below the average from two years ago. Weekend daily car rental rates will increase four percent to an average of $54. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are also expected to increase four percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night.
AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2010 Fourth of July holiday forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.