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Auto Club: Southern Californians To Travel In Record Numbers For Independence Day Holiday

Anaheim Is No. 2 Destination Nationwide


More than 5.4 million Californians and 3.4 million Southern California residents are expected to travel over Independence Day – an all-time record for the holiday, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Travel is expected to increase by 5.3 percent locally and statewide compared to the 2017 July Fourth holiday.

By The Numbers

It’s the fifth consecutive year of travel growth for the holiday, reflecting continued consumer confidence amid lower unemployment and increased discretionary income. A holiday trip is defined as one of 50 miles or more away from home between Tuesday, July 3 and Sunday, July 8.

Seventy-nine percent of travelers – 2.6 million from Southern California and 4.3 million statewide – are expected to travel by car to their destinations, a 4.7 percent increase from last year. Air travel over July Fourth is expected to leap by 9.2 percent from last year’s holiday, with 435,000 from Southern California and 702,000 throughout the state projected to fly to their vacations. And 285,000 local residents and 461,000 statewide will travel by train, cruise, bus or other means during the holiday – 5.3 percent higher than last year.

Nationally, nearly 47 million travelers are expected to get away for the Fourth of July, with many expected to take advantage of the midweek holiday to travel on a longer vacation that includes the weekend before and/or the weekend after the holiday. That is also an all-time record for the holiday and a 5.3 percent increase from last year.

Gas Prices

“Gas prices continue to hover near their highest levels since 2015 and Southern Californians are paying among the highest prices at the pump nationally, but that has not been enough of a negative factor to dampen enthusiasm for traveling,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “The strong growth in air travel is an especially positive sign that consumers are placing a high priority on vacations.”

Top Destinations

Americans will also be traveling to Southern California in big numbers for the Fourth – Anaheim is the second-most popular destination in the country over the holiday behind Orlando, according to AAA Travel.

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

1)  San Diego

2)  Las Vegas

3)  San Francisco

4) Yosemite National Park

5) Grand Canyon

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is expected to be especially heavy on the afternoon of Tuesday, 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 double travel times and will be the worst between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. July 3.

AAA to Rescue More Than 362,000 Motorists

AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside around the Independence Day holiday. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility 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.

Travelers Paying Less for Airfare, More for Car Rentals and Hotels

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. That is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9 percent less than last year.

However, travelers can expect to pay more to rent a car and stay at mid-range hotels this Independence Day. At $66, the average daily cost of a car rental is a slight increase of 2 percent over last year. The average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond hotels is $147, 11 percent more than last year, while AAA Three Diamond hotels will average $187, a 2 percent year-over-year increase.

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.


Additional resources:

B-roll interview of Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe speaking about the holiday forecast (password: Independence)

For more information and infographics related to the holiday travel forecast, members and the media can visit

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)
Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632
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.