Fourth of July holiday festivities are traditionally synonymous with a weekend getaway trip. Whether it was beach destinations, hotel stays or simple trips to visit the in-laws, the popular choice for many vacationers was to take to the road.

Although the recent economic fallout has put a hold on travel plans for many Americans over the last few years, AAA is projecting a significant increase in holiday travel this year compared to 2009.

Using economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight, AAA projects a 17.1 percent increase for the number of Americans traveling this July 4 weekend over last year. Roughly 34.9 million travelers are expected to take a trip at least 50 miles away from home for the nation’s birthday this year, another telling sign that the economy is on an upswing.

“AAA travel agents continue to report double-digit increases in the percentage of travelers making advanced reservations for cruises, vacation packages and online hotel bookings via are up over last year,” AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs Ragina C. Averella said in a statement. “All of which are positive signs pointing to an increase in the number of Americans traveling this Fourth of July holiday.”

The 2010 Fourth of July holiday travel period runs from July 1 through July 5. “I’m not sure about everyone else, but I‘m definitely getting away this Fourth of July weekend,” Baltimore resident Amanda Gilkes said. “These last few years have been rough but I finally have a little more wiggle room.”

Heading to the backyard to lay a few steaks on the grill may still be the best economic decision possible for many, but telling signs of fiscal recovery are encouraging as Americans continue to thaw out from a market freeze.

But while AAA reports an increase in travel expectations this year, not all residents are considering taking trips out of state. They prefer to let the celebration come to them.

“I typically don’t travel for the Fourth anyway,” Washington, D.C. resident Charlene Collier said. “This is D.C., why would I leave? Folks want to come here for the Fourth.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO