AAA anticipates record number of Independence Day travelers

Holly Viers • Updated Jun 30, 2017 at 12:28 PM

KNOXVILLE – To celebrate the nation’s birthday, a record 44.2 million Americans, including 872,000 Tennesseans, are expected to travel this holiday weekend.

These estimates represent an increase of 1.3 million Americans and 34,000 Tennesseans from last year, according to AAA.

“The expected travel increase is due in large part to the lower gas prices we’ve enjoyed this spring and early summer,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee public affairs director for AAA. “The savings at the pump mean consumers have more money to spend when they do travel on dining out, shopping and lodging.”

AAA defines the Independence Day holiday travel period as June 30 through July 4. Independence Day is historically the most-traveled summer holiday, according to a press release.

Of the 44.2 million traveling Americans, 37.5 million are expected to drive, 3.4 million will fly and 3.3 million will take other forms of transportation. In Tennessee, 782,000 people are expected to drive, 38,000 will fly and 51,000 will use other transportation, according to AAA.

“An estimated 3.4 million Americans will fly to their destination, and that's a 4.6 percent increase over last year,” Milani said. “We suspect that the increase has a lot to do with the price of airfare this year compared to last. According to AAA, airfares will average $186, or 10 percent less than last year.”

AAA reports that falling prices for gas, airfare and car rentals have contributed to the projected travel increase, in addition to rising incomes, strong employment and rising consumer confidence.

As for where people will be traveling to, Milani said coastal family-fun destinations will remain popular.

“Americans love to travel to the beach and theme parks in the summer, and this year is no different,” Milani said. “The top destinations include Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California. Also on the list are the beaches of Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.”

According to AAA’s summer travel bookings, some Northern destinations will also be popular, including Vancouver, Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska.