Auto Club: Fourth of July travel volume expected to be even closer to pre-pandemic levels than Memorial Day

The Automobile Club of Southern California projects a strong bounce back in Fourth of July travel over the Independence Day weekend, even greater than what happened during the Memorial Day holiday.  

The increase can be attributed to increased vaccinations, more states opening services and destinations, declining COVID-19 statistics and pent-up demand. More than 3.3 million Southern Californians are expected to take trips over the holiday weekend – a 46% increase from last year. A little over 2.2 million Southern Californians traveled over last year’s holiday, which was a 35% decline from 2019 and the lowest number since 2009, following the beginning of the Great Recession.

Fourth of July travel by the numbers

A little more than 86% of all travelers are expected to drive to their destinations, while more than 13% will fly and about 1% will go by other means, since cruises from American ports are cancelled and fewer people are using trains or buses.

“Car and air travel each are showing growing strength this 4th of July holiday weekend because many states have reduced or eliminated COVID-19 restrictions,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “We expect car travel to be the highest on record and air travel to be the third highest amount since AAA started tracking data in 2001.”

However, because restrictions vary by destination, Andre recommends travelers prepare ahead by working with a AAA travel advisor or planning their route in advance using the AAA TripTik ( and COVID-19 restriction map.

Top Fourth of July travel destinations

The top five Independence Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of Auto Club travel advisors, are:

Among local travelers who are flying, Hawaii is the top destination. Because of expected higher volume, the Auto Club recommends air travelers allow for more time to check in and go through TSA.

More than 115,000 California motorists will need AAA Roadside Assistance

The Auto Club and AAA in Northern California expect to come to the rescue of more than 112,000 motorists statewide over the holiday period between July 1- July 5. Because many vehicles sat idle during the pandemic and maintenance may have been neglected, the Auto Club strongly recommends having vehicles checked by a qualified mechanic before leaving on a road trip.

Gas prices

Southern California gas prices are well over $4 a gallon reaching levels not seen since 2014.



Image Sources

  • Fourth of July travel: Ingi Finnsson via Pixabay