LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - June 29, 2009) - July Fourth travel among Southern Californians is expected to decline by 2.7 percent compared to last year even with gas prices that are $1.50 lower than last year throughout the Southland, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's holiday travel projections.

More than 2.8 million Southland residents are expected to travel to Independence Day getaways, compared to 2.88 million travelers last year. Of those, 82 percent of travelers, or 2.3 million, will go by car, which is a 3.2 percent decline from last year's 2.2 million. A projected 226,000 travelers will fly, which is a 1.9 percent increase from last year's 222,000 plane travelers.

Statewide, more than 4.51 million travelers are expected to take holiday trips, also a decline of 2.7 percent. Car travelers are expected to number 3.71 million, while 363,000 are expected to go by plane. Nationally, July Fourth travel is expected to decline by 1.9 percent compared to last year, with 37.1 million Americans projected to take holiday getaways.

According to the AAA/Auto Club holiday travel survey, the average distance traveled for Fourth of July getaways for Southern Californians will be just over 600 miles, and this holiday's average travel budget will be $1,200 for Southern California families.

"It's not a big surprise to see a travel downturn this holiday given our economy, but the decline is not nearly as pronounced as last year because gas prices are much lower and travel bargains are abundant," said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. "In fact, air travel is up because of cheaper fares and vacation deals that we haven't seen in years."

The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a poll of the Auto Club's AAA Travel Agency, are:

1) San Diego
2) Las Vegas
3) Arizona (primarily Grand Canyon)
4) San Francisco
5) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)

The holiday travel projections were based on economic forecasts, analysis and an extensive survey conducted by HIS Global Insight on behalf of AAA.

The Auto Club advises auto travelers to plan their routes ahead of time, and to call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623 to make sure that their planned route will not be disrupted by highway closures. The closure information is updated hourly.

Contact Information: CONTACT: Marie Montgomery/Jeffrey Spring (714) 885-2333