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Prices Up, July 4th Travel Down?

Tell if you're driving over the holiday.

by on Jun.24, 2009

With fuel prices up, travel will be down, even compared to the dismal July 4, 2008 holiday, predicts AAA.

With fuel prices up, travel will be down again, even compared with the miserable 2008 holiday.

If you’ve been filling your tank, lately, you know the bad news: after a brief, spring reprieve, fuel prices have been rising again, now nudging $3.00 a gallon in some parts of the country.

While prices are nowhere near the $4-a-gallon level, as they were this time a year ago, the impact is nonetheless being felt by motorists across the country, says the AAA.  And the most immediate impact will be on travel during the upcoming Independence Day holiday, the road club projects.

Expect 37.1 million Americans to travel more than 50 miles from home during the long Fourth of July holiday, but that’d be a 1.9 percent decline from last year, when 37.8 million motored over 50 miles.  And the 2007 travel statistics were already down 10.5% from Independence Day ’07, when 42.3 million of us took a long drive.

How will you readers of respond to rising fuel prices?  Will you suffer through it and keep motoring, or will you switch plans, stay at home and set off a few of those firecrackers you hid away?  Click on the comment button and let us know!

Subscribe to“Many Americans remain cautious about the outlook for their personal finances and these attitudes are reflected in the slight decline in travel we are forecasting for the upcoming holiday weekend,” says Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President & CEO.

But Darbelnet adds that fuel prices aren’t the only thing to consider when deciding what to do over the Fourth.  The travel industry has been hammered, not just by gas prices, but also by the deep recession, and hotels, amusement parks and other entertainment venues are offering especially attractive deals to get folks traveling again.

Of course, there are other ways to get around.  Last year, air travel also declined for the Independence Day weekend, AAA reports, but this year, the company is projecting a nearly 5% jump, with 2 million Americans getting onboard for a quick holiday getaway.  It helps that the bottom tier of discount flights will cost an estimated 16% less than this time a year ago.

In fact, virtually everything but rental car prices are down for the upcoming holiday, with players like Hertz and Avis boosting daily charges about 5%, on average, to $51 a day.

All-in-all, AAA expects the typical Fourth of July traveler to spend about $1,160 over the holiday and to travel an average 614 miles.  Half that spending will cover transportation and lodging, while food and beverages will account for another 20%.  The rest will go towards shopping, entertainment and recreation.

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5 Responses to “Prices Up, July 4th Travel Down?”

  1. Michael Rose says:

    Not switching plans. As usual, we’ll walk two blocks to the beach and watch the municipal fireworks over the canal at the local marina. The car will stay safely in the garage.

  2. Laura Geist says:

    We are traveling Up North to Suttons Bay. We have not done an Up North trip over the 4th in years. We will be staying with family so that lessens the burden of the cost of the gas. It’s worth it to us because of family memories and beautiful views.

  3. Marcia McGee says:

    At $2.69 a gallon and 33 mpg in my new Saturn Aura, I am not changing any plans to drive!

  4. Al Rusca says:

    Al’s Rule #1 is to never travel on a Holiday Weekend no matter what the price of fuel! Living at the Jersey Shore, it always amazed me how the people that live here head for the city or the mountains while the city/country folks head for the beach! I guess it’s about wanting what you don’t have at any cost. All in all, I decided a long time ago not to travel on Holiday weekends.
    We’ll bar-b-que with friends, watch fireworks, and basically enjoy a relaxing weekend. If it stops raining long enough I may even find time to wash and wax my 4 wheeled friend in the driveway.
    Less is more when it comes to holiday weekend travel. Have a safe and happy holiday!

  5. Bob Austin says:

    Last summer I spent the first week of July in Scandinavia. At the beginning of the week I was in Sweden where gas was about $9 per gallon. On Friday, July 4th I flew to Denamrk, where the gas was pushing $11 per gallon. People in these countries still have cars, they still drive to go shopping and on vacations. But, they do drive cars which are smaller than the ones we drive, and they do use their cars more strategically than we do…they plan multi-stop shopping trips to make all travel as efficient as possible.

    This 4th, I plan to cook out at home with my family, perhaps polish one of my gas guzzling V-8 play things (which I drive about 1000 miles per year) and then watch the fireworks in a local park. Yes, our gas prices are going up again…but Europeans laugh when they hear us moaning about $3 a gallon gas…most of them can not rememember gas ever having been that cheap.