Despite toll and gas tax increases shceudled to take effect on July 1, majority of Maryland travelers expected to drive.
AAA Mid-Atlantic projects 798,400 Marylanders will trek 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday, a less than one percent decline compared to those who traveled last year. The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominantly due to a shorter holiday period. With the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday this year, the holiday period has returned to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.
"Consistent with our National travel forecast, this year’s projected decline in Maryland travel can be attributed to the calendar effect of one less day in the holiday period and economic growth that is still not quite robust enough to offset the impact of the sequester and the effect of the end of the payroll tax cut on American families," said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Majority of Travelers to Drive
As is typical with the majority of holidays, the primary travel mode of choice for Marylanders to reach their destination this Fourth of July holiday will be the automobile. Approximately 86 percent of the State’s travelers, 689,400 are estimated to travel by auto, which reflects a slight decrease of less than one per cent (-0.8 percent) versus last year’s holiday.
"While Marylander’s brace themselves for the State’s gas tax and toll increases, both of which become effective on July 1, the majority of Maryland travelers still plan to take to the roads for their Fourth of July holiday getaway," said Averella. "Fortunately for holiday travelers, gas prices are beginning to trend downward." The average price for a gallon of gasoline is approximately two cents less than last week, three cents lower than month-ago prices but 14 cents higher than last year at this time. "Despite higher prices compared to last year, driving remains the more affordable option for many travelers, especially those traveling as a family," said Averella. Maryland’s average price is approximately $3.49 per gallon for regular self-serve compared to $3.35 a year ago.
Air Travel Flat
With 59,300 Marylanders expected to take to the skies to reach their holiday destination this Independence Day holiday, air travel is essentially flat – a 0.1 percent increase is projected. This represents 8 percent of all Marylanders forecasted to travel and is consistent with last year’s share of air travelers. Although slight, this is the fourth consecutive year of rising Fourth of July holiday air travel volume, following the fall off in 2008 and 2009.
Other Modes of Travel Declines
Marylanders choosing other modes of transportation, including train, bus, or watercraft, represent approximately 6 percent of holiday travelers or 49,700. This reflects a 3.4 percent decrease versus last year’s holiday when approximately 51,400 Marylanders were projected to utilize other means of transportation.
Travel Trends - Closer to Home; Spending Less
Compared to the nationwide average, Marylanders will travel less distances to reach their destination - 506 round-trip miles on average compared to 613 round-trip miles nationally. They will also travel closer to home this year compared to 2012 when the average distance traveled was 645 miles. The majority, 34 percent, have indicated they will travel 50-150 miles round-trip, while only 19 percent of travelers intend to log more than 701 miles.
The median spending by Maryland travelers is estimated to be $718, a 25 percent decline over last year’s level of $962. Travelers indicated that nearly half of their budget (44 percent) will be allocated to accommodations, as well as food and beverages. "It appears that Marylanders plan to watch their discretionary spending with only 12 percent of their budget going to shopping and another 9 percent to entertainment/recreation," stated Averella. Most Marylanders (51 percent) are planning to travel alone or with one other adult, while 36 percent expect to travel with their family.