On a day designed to celebrate the Declaration of Independence, it seems only fitting that millions of Americans will celebrate the Independence Day holiday by exercising their freedom to drive, fly, or ride.

Whether it’s to a backyard family barbecue or a spectacular fireworks show, the pursuit of happiness can lead travelers far from home.  AAA Travel is predicting—thanks to continued strong consumer sentiment and modestly lower gas prices—that Independence Day in 2019 will be the busiest ever recorded. That’s because they’re forecasting that nearly 49 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more between July 3 and July 7.

More than 5.7 million Californians and 3.5 million Southern California residents are expected to travel over Independence Day holiday – an all-time travel record for the holiday for the third straight year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Travel is expected to increase by 3.9 percent locally and statewide compared to the 2017 July Fourth holiday.

The number of Independence Day holiday travelers has increased for six consecutive years due to continued consumer confidence amid lower unemployment and increased discretionary income. A holiday trip is defined as 50 miles or more away from home between Wednesday, July 3 and Sunday, July 7.

“We are seeing an continued increase in demand for destinations such as Hawaii and Europe over this holiday and throughout the summer,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Travelers are benefiting from new river cruise ships that have launched in recent years throughout Europe and from increased airline competition that has lowered airfares to Hawaii.”

Seventy-nine percent of travelers in California are expected to travel by car to their destinations, while 13 percent will fly and eight percent will go by other means, such as a bus, train or cruise.

Anaheim is expected to be the fifth most popular destination nationwide for travelers, according to AAA Travel, with Orlando, Honolulu, Seattle and Las Vegas also included in the top five.

For Southern Californians, a survey of Auto Club travel agents revealed the five most popular holiday Independence Day holiday travel destinations are:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. San Diego
  3. San Francisco
  4. Seattle (for Alaska cruises and local travel)
  5. Grand Canyon

After several weeks of declines at the pumps, Southern California gas prices are hovering at near the same levels as this time last year. The average pump prices are now about $3.70 a gallon, but could increase closer to the Independence Day holiday as a 5.6-cent gas tax increase in California takes effect on July 1.

Traffic congestion is expected to be especially heavy on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 3 throughout Southern California due to holiday travelers, according to the transportation analytics firm INRIX. INRIX projects that in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, holiday traffic will almost triple travel times at the peak and traffic will be the worst between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on July 3.

AAA expects to rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside this Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the primary reasons for vehicle troubles. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.

Additionally, before hitting the road, motorists need to be prepared for emergencies by taking along a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10 percent more expensive compared to last year’s Independence Day holiday, while average car rental rates are 5 percent higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, midrange accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.

AAA’s holiday travel 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.


Image Sources

  • Fourth of July Travel: Image by Ingi Finnsson from Pixabay