This Fourth of July weekend will be the busiest ever with a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans traveling more than 50 miles from home to honor the red, white and blue, according to predictions from AAA.

The Lake Mary-based travel organization projects a nearly 3 percent increase over last year, with 1.25 million more travelers heading to holiday destinations.

“Combined strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, in particular this Independence Day weekend,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing.

Most travelers, or 37.5 million Americans, will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. Cheaper gas prices are prompting more people to hit the road. The national average gas price of $2.28 a gallon is four cents lower than this time last year.

Air travel is expected to increase 4.6 percent over last year, with 3.44 million Americans flying to celebrate our nation’s birth.

Orlando International Airport is expecting to top the national stats with a 5.6 percent jump in traffic this week. The busiest travel days will be Saturday, July 1st with a combined 148,718 departures and arrivals and Saturday and July 8th with 146,446 total passengers. July 4 will be the slowest day with about 116,000 passengers arriving and departing.

AAA attributes the increase in air travel to lower prices for airfares and car rentals for the Fourth of July holiday. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 10 percent lower this year, with an average round trip ticket landing at $186, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Daily car rental rates will average $65, which is 14 percent less than last Independence Day. Hotel costs are the same as last year, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $185 per night.

Orlando will continue to stay busy throughout the summer as people travel to see new attractions at Walt Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld. Orlando is the number one spot on the list of summer vacation destinations, based on AAA bookings.

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