Fireworks at the U.S. Capitol, July 4, 2012Enlarge Photo
Americans: if you're planning to sneak out of town for the long holiday weekend, expect a bit of company along the way. According to AAA, you'll be schlepping to the beaches, mountains, and theme parks with about 40,999,999 fellow travelers.
This weekend, AAA expects to see some 41 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from home. That's a jump of nearly two percent from last year's estimate of 40.3 million Independence Day vacationers.
Worse -- at least for motorists -- AAA expects that 85 percent of those folks will travel to their destination by car. That's the highest percentage of road-trippers we've seen on any July 4 weekend since 2007. More impressively, the volume of travelers this year is likely to be six percent higher than the average of the past ten Independence Days.
If you find bumper-to-bumper a major bummer, AAA suggests taking to the friendly skies instead. Not only are airfares on track to be about five percent lower this holiday weekend than in 2013 ($215 vs. $228), but the number of people traveling by plane is expected to dip slightly, by about 0.6 percent. (That's 3.1 million fliers, compared to 3.12 million last year.)
Another reason to consider flying: picking up a car in your destination won't set you back any more than usual. Rentals are about the same price as last year, at about $58 per weekend day.
Whether you rent or drive, though, if you have a car on hand, it'll cost you more to keep the tank filled up: gas prices are about $0.20 per gallon higher than on July 4 weekend in 2013. Currently, a gallon of regular unleaded is about $3.68, but last year at this time, it was $3.48.
Sadly, hotels are pricier, too. One night at a AAA Two Diamond hotel will set you back $137 -- 15 percent more than last year. Want a little more luxury? Three Diamond accommodations average $178, up six percent.
Suddenly, camping in the backyard with a cooler of Zima and a long Netflix queue doesn't sound so bad, does it?