The Automobile Club of Southern California projects a strong bounce back in 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.
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 (TripTik.aaa.com) and COVID-19 restriction map.
Top travel destinations
The top five Independence Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of Auto Club travel advisors, are:
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
- Zion/Bryce Canyon National Parks
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Yosemite National Park
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. For a list of quality auto repair facilities near you, visit AAA.com/Repair or use the free AAA Mobile app.
Southern California gas prices are well over $4 a gallon reaching levels not seen since 2014. The Auto Club recommends using a tool like the free AAA Mobile app to locate the cheapest gas prices near your location.
INRIX, Auto Club predict heightened traffic over holiday
INRIX, a transportation analytics company, projects significant traffic congestion in Southern California on Friday, July 2 and Saturday July 3, in the afternoon and evening, particularly on Interstate 5, Interstate 405. The Auto Club urges travelers to allow extra time to get to their destinations, especially if they must travel through Los Angeles during the typical evening rush hour period.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. For the purposes of this forecast, the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 through Monday, July 5. When the Fourth of July falls on any day of the week other than a Wednesday, it is a five-day holiday period. The travel forecast was prepared the week of June 1, 2021.
In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. For the 2021 Independence Day holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding COVID‑19–related restrictions and activity.