July 4 travel hitting a record thanks to lower gas prices, humming economy

Travelers heading out for the July 4 holiday can expect plenty of company this year.

Nearly 71 million people will be on the move over July Fourth week, according to AAA — a record that exceeds even pre-pandemic totals.

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement. “We anticipate this July 4th week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

About 60.6 million people will travel by vehicle over the holiday, AAA said. That’s up nearly 5% from last year. At $3.51 a gallon, gas prices are slightly lower than they were this time last year, when they hit $3.54. Given that inflation has climbed more than 3% over the period, the cost effect for drivers is even greater.

Travelers in line for security screening at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Friday.Andrew Harnik / Getty Images

Air travelers are also expected to set a record, with AAA projecting 5.74 million people to fly to their July Fourth destinations, up 7% from last year.

AAA booking data shows that domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year and that the average price for a domestic round-trip ticket is $800.

Travelers near check-in desks at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Friday. Andrew Harnik / Getty Images

The booming travel figures are further reflected by the Transportation Security Administration’s screening data, which last week set a daily record of more than 2.9 million flyers processed.

The U.S. economy is slowing but still showing signs of solid growth. The Commerce Department said last week that spending on travel, restaurant meals and other services rose at a 3.3% rate in the first quarter of the year, a still-firm rate that is occurring against decelerating inflation.

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