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VOL. 131 | NO. 130 | Thursday, June 30, 2016


Lance Wiedower

Record July Fourth Travel Forecasted


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Have plans to travel this July Fourth weekend? You’re not alone.

AAA forecasts nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend. It’s the highest travel volume for July Fourth on record and a half million more than last year.

We typically join the masses to travel over July Fourth. Sometimes it’s to spend time at the beach in Florida; I’m actually writing this as I look out over the peaceful Gulf of Mexico. Other years we celebrate the holiday with family at an annual reunion.

Holiday weekends make a lot of sense for travel, especially in the U.S., where the American worker has less vacation time to use than our European counterparts. Every extra day we can get is crucial. This year is a big plus with July Fourth falling on a Monday.

The summer travel season is defined as Memorial Day to Labor Day, and July Fourth sits in the middle of it. AAA says July Fourth is the most-traveled holiday of the summer. If you have children it’s easier to understand; we traveled to California during Memorial Day week last year and while our son was out of school, local kids still had a few more weeks before summer vacation began.

We spent Memorial Day week in Minnesota this year and those kids still had another week of school. Point is, once the calendar hits July virtually every American student is on break and the Independence Day holiday is the perfect time for travel.

So why is this Independence Day holiday different than all the others for travel? For starters, most indicators point to a vibrant and recovered economy, even if some sectors don’t show the same prerecession levels (looking at you, new-home construction).

Travel is more affordable this summer. Airfare has declined over the past year to levels not seen in 10-plus years. Exchange rates for the U.S. dollar are good.

Not that anyone is making sudden July Fourth plans to travel to the United Kingdom, but after the recent Brexit vote for that country to leave the European Union, the British pound plummeted and is likely to continue at levels not seen in years. That’s good for American travelers; not so good for the British economy.

Back in the United States, gasoline prices have created real economic savings this year. Gas prices are forecast to be the lowest in 11 years this holiday weekend. Those savings are real for travelers, whether it’s with lower airfares or more affordable car trips.

Across Tennessee, the average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.10, which is 64 cents lower than the $2.74 cents on July 4, 2015. The average price for a gallon of gasoline in Tennessee was $3.25 on July 4, 2014. The highest came on July 4, 2007 when it was $3.92 per gallon.

And with those sudden savings, you can consider using that money for a portable DVD player for those long car rides to quiet the backseat passenger.

Contact Lance Wiedower at tripsbylance.com.

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