Busiest holiday ever? AAA predicts ‘most traveled Independence Day’ in history

Published 3:08 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Fourth of July is coming and with it comes a lot of holiday travel, and according to AAA Alabama, this holiday is anticipated to be the most traveled Independence Day in American history.
AAA Alabama Public Relations and Marketing Manager Clay Ingram said that 44.2 million Americans are expected to be traveling 50 miles or more during the Independence Day holiday, which is 1.52 million more than last year setting a new record for the holiday.
37.5 million people are expected to drive to their destinations, which is an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.
Ingram said that a combination of factors is likely at work with the boom in travel, but pointed to low gas prices as a key factor.
“Our gas prices are cheaper than we anticipated this time of the year,” Ingram said. “Our state average is $2.01 per gallon, and that’s 10 cents cheaper than a year ago today. It was $2.11 this time last year and really that truly is a surprise.”
Ingram said that AAA Alabama anticipated gas prices to be around the $2.15 mark by this time, but gas prices have continued to remain cheaper than a year ago.
“Our gas prices are probably 10-15 cents per gallon cheaper than we were anticipating, and that makes a big difference in people making that decision to travel or not,” Ingram said.
Ingram said that people are likely feeling more comfortable with the growing economy as well.
“I think people are feeling a little bit bettenow with the economy,” Ingram said. “It’s been getting a little better each year for the last few years and when that happens people feel a little bit better about their personal situation. Most people don’t really pay attention to the economy in general, but just in their own household they know when they are a little bit more comfortable.”
People’s views on vacations and the need for them have also changed over the last decade, Ingram said.
“We have a different mentally about vacations now than we did 10-20 years ago,” he said. “Now, most people view it as a necessity to be able to get away and go somewhere.
“It was looked at as a luxury before, but most people now, with the high stress, fast paced work environments we’re all a part of day in and day out, feel like they have to get away at least a time or two every year just to sort of unwind and decompress a little bit.”
Ingram said that, while numbers aren’t available on a state-by-state basis, travel in and through Alabama is anticipated to be very high as well.
“In general terms Alabama is going to be right up there with everybody else in the nation,” Ingram said. “The southeastern portion of the country is usually the busiest region of the country when it comes to travel anyway because our people like to get away too and also we get a lot of drive through traffic from other parts of the country.
“Alabama residents are just as excited and anxious to travel as everyone else.”