The Price of Independence Day (Infographic)

Travelers likely to pay most expensive July 4 holiday gas prices in six years

Published in CSP Daily News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- AAA Travel projects that 41 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 1.9% increase from the 40.3 million people who traveled last year and a nearly 14% increase compared to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 6.

More than eight in 10 (34.8 million) will choose to travel by automobile, the highest level since 2007.

"With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, with five million more Americans traveling compared to Memorial Day weekend," said AAA COO Marshall L. Doney. "In line with tradition, most travelers are celebrating their newfound summer freedom with an all-American road trip."

An increase in consumer spending is primarily due to increasing credit, rather than rising incomes. Consumers have been hesitant to add to their credit-card balances the past several years, but continued improvements in the employment picture and rising home values means they are starting to feel more comfortable taking on debt. In addition to consumer spending, a boost in consumer confidence and the employment outlook are driving more Americans to take a road trip.

"Steady improvement in the economy has spurred increased consumer confidence and spending," said Doney. "Optimistic Americans are more willing to take on debt this year, dusting off their credit cards to pay for a much-needed Independence Day getaway."

AAA expects the majority of U.S. drivers likely will pay the highest gas prices for Independence Day since 2008.

Thes national average price of gas is about 20 cents per gallon more expensive than the average on July 4, 2013, which was $3.48 per gallon.

In recent years, gas prices have declined in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, but this has not occurred this summer due to higher crude oil costs as fighting intensifies in Iraq. AAA said that it does not believe that high gas prices will have a significant impact on the number of people traveling, but it could result in some consumers cutting back on dining, shopping or other trip activities.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.

Click here to view the full Independence Day Holiday Report.