AAA Predicts Busiest Travel Weekend Ever

BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- More Americans are expected to travel this Fourth of July holiday than have ever traveled for a holiday weekend. AAA estimates that 40.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.8% increase from the 39.2 million who traveled last year.

AAA's Leisure Travel Index shows that car rental rates are up 12.8%.

Approximately 33.9 million travelers (84% of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.6% increase from the 33.1 million who drove a year ago. Another 4.6 million (11%) plan to travel by airplane, up 4.2% from the 4.4 million that flew last Fourth of July. A projected 1.8 million vacationers (5%) will go by train, bus, or other mode of transportation -- up from about 1.7 million a year ago.

"This not only will be the most heavily traveled Fourth of July ever, but this long weekend actually will put more American vacationers on the road than even the granddaddy of holiday travel weekends -- Thanksgiving," said Gail Weinholzer, AAA Minnesota/Iowa spokesperson. "Higher prices for gasoline and increased competition for hotel rooms will do little to reduce the amount of traffic on our roads and airways."

The greatest number of Fourth of July auto travelers will originate in the Southeast with 8.6 million, followed by the West with 8.4 million; Midwest, 6.5 million; Northeast, 5.7 million; and Great Lakes, 4.7 million.

The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.7 million, followed by the Midwest and Southeast at 800,000 each; Northeast, 700,000; and Great Lakes, 600,000.

Cities tied with towns/rural areas top the list of preferred destinations this holiday with 23% of travel volume for each. Watery fun came in next, with ocean/beach at 18% and lake areas at 14%. Mountain areas (7%) came next, followed by theme/amusement parks (5%) and state/national parks (4%). Another 4% responded with other, and 3% said they didn't know.

Research for holiday travel is based on a national telephone survey of 1,300 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America, which conducts special research for AAA.

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