July 4th Travel Traffic Expected To Return To Pre-Recession Levels

Planning on loading the car up and hitting the road or hopping on a plane to a sandy beach this Fourth of July next weekend? Hope you don’t mind being accompanied by a few million of your closest friends.

USA Today reports that more than 41 million consumers are putting the recession behind them and hitting the open road to enjoy the holiday weekend.

That figure is up about 1.9% from the 40.3 million consumers who traveled last year, and represents the highest level of travel since the pre-recession holiday in 2007.

So, why the increase? According to AAA, consumers’ renewed willingness to take on credit card debt and the way in which the holiday falls on the calendar provide incentive to travel this year. The fourth of July falls on Friday, creating the perfect opportunity for many to get away.

Nearly 8 in 10 consumers are expected to travel by car despite the fact that gas prices are up roughly 20 cents per gallon compared to last year’s holiday weekend. The increase in price is a stark difference from previous year when prices actually dropped before the holiday weekend.

Higher prices won’t pose much of a problem for travelers because they are apparently more apt than ever to use credit cards at the pump. Officials from the auto club say consumers who’ve been hesitant to add to their credit card balances in recent years are taking comfort from an improving employment picture and rising home values this summer.

Vehicle travel isn’t the only mode of transportation to see a boost this holiday season.

Airfare is currently 5% lower on average than it was a year ago. However, hotel rates are reported to be about 15% higher for AAA Two Diamond hotels and 9% higher for Three Diamond hotels.

AAA: Fourth of July travel rises 1.9% [USA Today]