With gas prices down over $1 a gallon from last summer, experts are predicting 85% of American travelers will travel by car for the 4th of July weekend.
Leading up to the holiday, demand for gasoline was lower than a year ago, and this led to lower gas prices at the pump, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, a unit of PDI Technologies in Alpharetta, Georgia.
GasBuddy’s research suggests the national average price at the pump will be $3.49 per gallon on the 4th of July, down from about $4.79 per gallon in 2023. In many locations, gas prices soared about $5 per gallon last summer.
“Much of COVID’s revenge travel is behind us, and thus far this summer, demand for gasoline has been softer than last year, helping to ease the pressure on gas prices,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “We may continue to see average prices moderate, especially closer to Labor Day, barring hurricanes or other unexpected refinery outages, with steeper price drops coming after summer. But for now, it’s still not a bad time to get outside and hit the road this summer with far lower prices in every state compared to last year.”
GasBuddy’s 2023 summer travel survey suggests about 36% of drivers are planning to take a road trip over Independence Day weekend, up 9% from last year.
Meanwhile, travel company AAA predicts a 2.4% increase in the number of 4th of July car travelers to 43.2 million, a 4% increase from 2019.
When all forms of transportation are included, AAA is projecting 50.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their home for the long holiday weekend, a new record number, according to the company. In 2019, 49 million people traveled for the 4th of July, AAA said.
AAA pegged the national average gas price at between $3.50 and $3.60 a gallon, compared with $4.80 a year ago.
The number of Americans traveling by bus, cruise ship or train is expected to climb 24% from a year ago to 3.36 million people, while air travel is expected to climb 11% to 4.17 million Americans, AAA said.
More road trips doesn’t necessarily indicate higher fuel spending because of the lower price per gallon, GasBuddy said. Its data suggests U.S. drivers will spend about $2.6 billion less on gasoline during the June 30-July 5 holiday weekend than they spent during the same period a year ago.
After the July 4th holiday is a big travel weekend, travel by car is expected to continue during the rest of the summer. About two-thirds of Americans plan to take a summer vacation, with many opting to drive instead of fly to save money, Bankrate said.
GasBuddy’s research indicates the median U.S. gas price on June 26 was $3.39 per gallon, the same as last week, but gas prices vary by location and kind of fuel. States with the lowest average fuel prices per gallon included Mississippi at $2.97, Louisiana at $3.08 and Tennessee at $3.09. States with the highest average per-gallon fuel prices included Washington at $4.92, California at $4.79 and Hawaii at $4.70.
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