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Auto Club: Independence Day Holiday Travel Expected To Be Second Busiest Ever For SoCal

Travel By Plane, Bus, Train And Cruise Ships Will Experience Largest Passenger Increases

Newsroom Fourth of July 1943-07 WW COVER

Independence Day 2023 soundbites in English from Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe

Independence Day 2023 soundbites in Spanish from Auto Club Spokesperson Anlleyn Venegas

The Automobile Club of Southern California expects local travel over Independence Day to be close to the volume seen in 2019, which was the all-time travel record for the holiday. More than 3.4 million Southern Californians will take getaways over this Fourth of July period, which will be 4.4% higher than last year and down just 1% from 2019. Nationally, nearly 51 million people are expected to travel, surpassing the record set in 2019. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4.

“Travel demand has been steadily increasing since 2020, and this summer is poised to be one for the record books,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products and services. “The most significant change we are noticing this year is the surging interest in international destinations. Travelers are booking their dream bucket-list trips, and due to the increased demand, we are advising them to plan well in advance and work with a trusted travel advisor.”

By the Numbers

Independence Day 2023 charts

Top Destinations

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

1) Las Vegas

2) San Diego

3) Central Coast

4) Mexico (cruises and resorts)

5) Grand Canyon

Gas Prices, Vacation Costs, and Travel Trends and Tips

  • Gas prices are about $1.50 a gallon lower in Southern California than at this time last year, although they are still at the second highest levels ever for this time of year.
  • Air travel is seeing the biggest spike despite high ticket prices. Passengers are paying 40% - 50% more for flights compared to last year, but AAA data shows bookings aren’t slowing down.
  • Hotel prices are up slightly over 2022, but not by much. While the number of domestic hotel bookings is about the same as last year, AAA data shows international hotel bookings are up 80% compared to 2022.
  • International travel demand is booming and so are passport applications. The U.S. State Department says it’s processing half a million applications a week. Routine service is averaging 10-13 weeks. Need a passport fast? RushMyPassport provides expedited services and discounts for AAA members. This past May, they handled more than 1,100 applications from AAA members, compared to just 73 applications in May of last year.
  • Car rental shortages seen during the pandemic have improved. Inventory has been increasing steadily since last year, with newer models and electric vehicles added to fleets. AAA data shows rental prices are down slightly from last year. Demand for international rental cars is up more than 80% compared to 2022.
  • Cruising is back to pre-pandemic numbers, with sold-out ships and advance bookings. Prices are about the same as 2022, with certain cruises a bit higher this year due to demand. Alaska cruises are particularly popular this time of year. AAA booking data also shows Caribbean cruises and European river cruises are top vacations in 2023.

The Auto Club recommends air travelers to:

  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international departures.
  • Reserve airport parking ahead of time.
  • Check in online at home to avoid long lines in terminals.
  • Download your airline’s app to be notified immediately of any flight changes.
  • Consider applying for TSA PreCheck if you’re a frequent traveler.

The Auto Club recommends drivers taking road trips to:

  • Get at least seven hours of sleep before driving to avoid drowsiness behind the wheel.
  • Ensure everyone wears a seatbelt for the entire trip.
  • Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. Remember that driving distracted can be just as deadly as driving while impaired.
  • Pack snacks, bottled water, phone chargers and an emergency roadside kit.
  • Do a thorough inspection of your vehicle’s tires, battery and fluid levels before leaving, or find a reliable auto mechanic at an Approved Auto Repair facility by visiting AAA expects to rescue more than 393,000 motorists over the Independence Day holiday period with more than 102,000 rescues in California alone. The primary reasons why drivers will call AAA for help will be for flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts.

Best and Worst Times to Travel

According to data compiled by the traffic analytics firm INRIX, the worst congestion for Southern California will be on the evening of Sunday, July 2 on Interstate 15 northbound toward Las Vegas, and those traveling at that time can expect the journey to be more than six hours instead of the usual four hours. Another peak bottleneck period will be along Interstate 10 eastbound from Palm Springs to Los Angeles as people return home on the afternoon of Monday, July 3.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit

About INRIX  

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at


Media Contacts

Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632
Anlleyn Venegas
Public Affairs Specialist. Spanish-Language Media Spokesperson , Auto Club Enterprises
(619) 565-4556
Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.