AAA Predicts Jump in July 4 Weekend Travel

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The number of Americans planning to travel this Fourth of July holiday weekend will increase a whopping 17.1 percent from 2009 levels, predicts travel and auto group AAA.

About 34.9 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the weekend this year, up from 29.8 million last year, AAA says.

The reason for the increase? Optimism about the economy.

"While financial markets continue to have volatility related to the European debt crisis, the landscape of the U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago," said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Service.

The number of those traveling by car is expected to jump 17.7 percent, while those traveling by air is expected to increase 8.2 percent.

AAA is predicting traveler numbers will be up across the U.S., including in states in the Gulf region. The group says most Gulf beaches remain open despite the BP oil spill and there have not been widespread cancellations.

AAA defines the Fourth of July holiday weekend as July 1-5.

The national price of self-service gasoline for the weekend will average $2.70 to $2.80 per gallon, AAA predicts. That's up from $2.64 last year, but much less than the $4.04 average in 2008.

Weekend airfares are expected to show a 13 percent increase over last year, with a lowest average round-trip fare of $192. AAA predicts weekend daily car rental rates will show a 4 percent increase to $54.

Americans will travel on average 617 miles, the same as last year. Median spending is estimated at $644, nearly $50 less than last year.

Where will everyone be going? Fifty-eight percent of Americans will spend time with friends and relatives over the holiday, AAA forecasts.

Photo, greeblie, flickr
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