The number of Americans who plan to travel during the Fourth of July holiday weekend will jump 17.1 percent from 2009 levels, boosted by optimism about the state of the U.S. economy, travel and auto group AAA said Wednesday.
About 34.9 million travelers will take a trip at least 50 miles away from home, up sharply from 29.8 million last year, AAA said.
The number of Americans traveling by car is expected to jump 17.7 percent, while the number traveling by air is expected to increase 8.2 percent.
"While financial markets continue to have volatility related to the European debt crisis, the landscape of the U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago," said Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services.
Last year, on the U.S. Independence Day holiday weekend travel tumbled 21.2 percent from 2008 levels as the recession depressed travel.
AAA defines the Fourth of July holiday travel period this year as July 1-5.
Travel will likely increase across the United States this year, even in the Gulf Coast region, where there has been some concern that the BP oil leak will keep tourists away.
However, the South Atlantic will likely not experience the same amount of growth as elsewhere in the nation due to the spill, AAA said.
Despite the increase in travel, AAA reported that the median spending is estimated to be $644 per household, nearly $50 less than last year.
The national price of gasoline will likely average between $2.70 and $2.80 a gallon during the holiday weekend, up from an average of $2.64 last year, but considerably lower than the $4.04 average in 2008.
Air fares are expected to increase 13 percent from last year, but will still remain below the average two years ago.
Car rental rates will increase 4 percent to an average of $54 per day.