This Independence Day, a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home, taking to the nation's roads, skies, rails, and waterways to honor the red, white, and blue. With 1.25 million more travelers than last year, 2017 will be marked as the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend ever.

"More Americans are eager to take advantage of the strong economy and celebrate with family and friends," said Jim Lehman, President of AAA East Central. "Steady gas prices are providing an extra spark for 4th of July travel plans."

The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4.

East North Central region including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Independence Day Forecast Highlights:

Independence Day travelers will total 7.8 million, an increase of 3.2% from 7.6 million in 2016.

6.9 million will travel by automobile, up 3.3% from 6.7 million in 2016.

354,000 people will fly to their destinations, up 2.9% from 344,000 in 2016.

581,000 people will use other modes (bus, train, boat, etc.), up 2.6% from 566,000 in 2016.

The national average gas price is four cents cheaper than this same time last year and a contributing factor to the increase in travelers on the roads this Independence Day. With today's national average price for a gallon of gas at $2.28, prices remain historically low for the summer travel season. However, consumers may see prices increase, albeit by pennies, closer to the holiday weekend, similar to the Memorial Day gas price trend.

The vast majority of travelers--37.5 million people across America--will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 4.6 percent over last year, with 3.44 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day. Travel by other modes of transportation (including cruises, trains, and buses) will increase 1.4 percent, to 3.27 million travelers.

Travelers can expect lower prices for car rentals and hotels this Independence Day weekend. 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.

AAA expects to rescue more than 338,000 motorists across America this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility (AAA.com/AutoRepair) to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

With new attractions debuting at popular theme parks, Orlando claims the number one spot on the national list of most-visited locales for 2017 summer travel based on AAA's summer travel bookings:

Orlando, Florida

Vancouver, Canada

Cancun, Mexico

Seattle, Washington

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Honolulu, Hawaii

Anaheim, California

Anchorage, Alaska

Las Vegas, Nevada

Montego Bay, Jamaica

To help travelers plan their trips to a top 10 destination, AAA's team of anonymous hotel and restaurant inspectors recently selected a few of their favorite places to stay and dine.

Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA's is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities, budget, and services.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 81 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.