Summer Travel Gets a Boost

In a sign that people may feel more secure about the economy — there’s a marked increase in the number of Texans who plan to travel for the July Fourth weekend. Laurie Johnson reports.

The recession caused a significant drop in the number of people who traveled for holidays. In 2008 there was an eleven percent decline in Texas for July 4th travel. In 2009 it was even worse, with a 20 percent drop in the number of people taking trips.

AAA Texas Spokesman Dan Ronan says this year they’re projecting a partial rebound.

“We’re looking at what we think will be a pretty significant Fourth of July. More than a double-digit increase — 14.4 percent more people from the previous year. And that will put about 2.43 million Texans taking a trip this Fourth of July and the majority of them, more than 90 percent, are going to be doing this by car.”

One of the factors is the price of gasoline, which has remained fairly stable in recent months. But Ronan says a 14 percent increase in travel signifies more than just affordable prices at the pump.

“You know if you don’t take a trip, or you just stay close to home for several holidays or during the course of the summer and then all of a sudden there’s some pent up demand. And that’s, I think, part of what we’re seeing — that people have backed off on trips and said no we’re not going to go, we’re not going to go. But this year because the economy is starting to show some signs of a recovery and we’ve had some stability in terms of gas prices, they’re planning to go.”

Ronan says Texans also plan to travel further and spend more money this year. The average round-trip will be around 850 miles at a cost of just under $1,000.

“The increase this year still doesn’t put us where we were back in the middle of the decade — 2005-2006 when the economy was still pretty strong.  So we’re not back to where we were five, six years ago. But 14.4 percent in Texas is a pretty significant increase.”

Not to put a damper on your travel plans for the 4th, but it’s also the worst holiday weekend for car trouble. The notorious Texas heat, combined with long road trips makes it the busiest weekend for emergency roadside assistance.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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