More people hitting the highways for Independence Day holiday travel

By Jim Barnett, CNNPublished 26th June 2012
Maybe it's because of falling gas prices or simply the day of the week, but this Independence Day, holiday travelers will be out in full force.
Overall travel is expected to be up almost 5% over the July 4th holiday, according to projections from the American Automobile Association. The last time this many people were expected to travel over the Independence Day holiday was five years ago.
AAA predicts 42.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home, compared to 40.3 million last year, as the price of gas falls below $3.50 a gallon in the United States after peaking close to $4 in early April.
The increase in travel is also believed to be tied to the calendar, because Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year. Since the traditional five-day travel period is expanded to six days, it provides people with the option of a weekend and two weekdays on either side of July 4th.
AAA says the majority of people surveyed -- 54% -- plan to begin their holiday trip prior to the start of the work week that includes July 4.
Approximately 35.5 million people -- 84% of all Independence Day holiday travelers -- plan to travel by car, an increase of 4% from 2011. Another 3.2 million will fly during the holiday period, a 9% jump over air travelers last year. The remaining travelers will rely on other modes of transportation including rail, bus and cruise ships.
While the roads and skies are expected to be more congested, AAA says travelers will be spending less money, economizing where they can, staying at lower-priced motels, staying with friends and relatives and staying in hotels that include value-added amenities like free breakfast and internet.