Orlando is the No. 1 travel destination for Fourth of July, AAA says

Millions of Floridians expected to travel for holiday weekend

Holiday travel is rebounding from its COVID-19 pandemic slump and this Fourth of July, many of those travelers will be flocking to Orlando.
Holiday travel is rebounding from its COVID-19 pandemic slump and this Fourth of July, many of those travelers will be flocking to Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Holiday travel is rebounding from its COVID-19 pandemic slump and this Fourth of July, many of those travelers will be flocking to Orlando.

AAA said in a recent news release that nearly 2.6 million Floridians are expected to travel this weekend, an increase of 36% when compared to last year and the second-highest amount on record. Nationwide, 47.7 million Americans are planning to take a trip, a 40% increase when compared to July 4, 2020.

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“Travel is back this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue vacations they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kickoff of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day.”

AAA also looked at travel booking data for flights and tours to determine the top destinations:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Seattle, Washington
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. New York, New York
  8. Atlanta, Georgia
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

For Floridians, most who plan to travel will be doing so by car, according to figures provided by AAA.

Florida July 4 travel figuresTotalAutoAirOther
20212,591,1092,393,767174,10723,235
20201,906,8461,823,93668,55014,360
20192,605,7962,270,959194,490140,346
Change 2020-202136%31%154%62%
Change 2019-2020-27%-20%-65%-90%

That auto travel could be more expensive as AAA reports that Independence Day gas prices will likely hit highs not seen since 2014.

“Road trips provide a sense of freedom and more control over the duration of your trip,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said. “Even more expensive gas prices are unlikely to deter Americans from that road trip many have waited more than a year for. If anything, motorists are more likely to cut back on other expenses like lodging and dining out, to offset the higher cost of fuel.”

As of June 21, the average gas price in Florida was $2.94 per gallon compared to previous July Fourth prices of $2.11 per gallon in 2020, $2.68 in 2019, $2.73 in 2018, $2.15 in 2017, $2.23 in 2016, $2.67 in 2015 and $3.60 in 2014.

AAA posts average gas prices daily at this link.

Jim Cook, who is traveling to Key West for the Fourth of July holiday, said after the pandemic, “we were ready to do something” and that gas prices are not a concern.

“I’m not worried about gas. I already paid thousands of dollars to rent a place down there, I ain’t worried about a few hundred dollars in gas,” he said.

It’s not just gas prices that have swelled recently. Travelers can also expect rates for mid-range hotels to be up between 32% and 35%, plus rental car rates are up 86% compared to last year.

No matter where or how you’re traveling, AAA suggests using caution and planning ahead.

“This Independence Day is going to be so different from last year. We had a lot of people who were staying home, due to the pandemic last year,” Jenkins said. “...Now there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, with people anxious to get back out there and travel again.”

To help travelers in that regard, AAA put together the map you see embedded below showing COVID-19 restrictions in each state. You can also click here to view it.


About the Authors:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.