AAA: July 4th Travelers Up, but Frugal

NEW YORK -- Roads and airports are expected to be bustling during the July 4 weekend, according to a survey by travel organization AAA, which projects that the number of Americans traveling over the holiday weekend will increase 17.1 percent from 2009, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

The survey found 34.9 million travelers will take a trip at least 50 miles away from home sometime between July 1 and July 5.

Despite lingering uncertainty and volatile financial markets, "the landscape of the U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago," Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services, said in a statement cited by the paper.

The AAA survey found the median spending by travelers is estimated to be $644 this holiday weekend, nearly $50 less than last year despite generally higher travel costs, the paper reported.

Roughly 90 percent of travelers, or 31.4 million people, are expected to travel by car, up almost 18 percent from the number in 2009, according to the study. AAA expects the national average price of regular self-serve gasoline to be between $2.70 and $2.80 per gallon during the long weekend.

According to AAA, average airfares over the July 4 weekend are expected to increase 13 percent from 2009, although airfares are still below the average from two years ago. The number of leisure air travelers is expected to increase by over 8 percent from a year ago, to 1.56 million people.

Weekend daily car rental rates increased 4 percent, to an average of $54, AAA reported.
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