More Americans staying home for 4th of July weekend

@CNNMoney June 22, 2011: 5:17 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More Americans are staying home for the 4th of July weekend compared to last year, according to a forecast released Wednesday.

Motorist group AAA said that 39 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home between Thursday, June 30, and Monday, July 4. That's down 2.5% from last year, when 40 million Americans celebrated the long weekend away from home.

High gas prices are to blame. Although they've inched lower in recent weeks, the average price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.64 -- about a dollar more than it was at this time last year. That's enough to keep some Americans at home over the long weekend, according to Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services.

Higher gas prices are hitting lower income travelers the hardest. In homes with a total household income of $50,000 or less, the percentage of travelers is forecast to fall from 41% to 33%.

Meanwhile, in households with total income of more than $100,000, the percentage of 4th of July travelers is expected to increase from 26% to 35%.

Despite the increase in gas prices, 84% of holiday travelers will be driving.

More than half of 4th of July travelers said that rising gas prices would not impact their travel plans, but 44% said that the rising cost of fuel would impact their plans.

Of those who said they would change their weekend travel plans, about a third said they would travel a shorter distance or take an alternate mode of transportation. The rest said they would pinch pennies in other ways.

Even as drivers shorten their routes, slightly more than 3 million Americans will fly over the 4th of July weekend, AAA predicts, up 9% from last year.

Gas prices push commuters to the train

Part of the increasing appeal of airline travel is the increased expense of driving, the report said.

Whether going by air or by land, travelers should expect to shell out more money this year; median spending is expected to rise 25% to $807.

The report from AAA was based on research and economic forecasting by IHS Global Insight.  To top of page

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