TripIt Data: Will Fourth of July 2021 Be the Return to Normal?

By TripIt

June 16, 2021

Memorial Day 2021 was the first U.S. holiday post vaccination program rollout, and as predicted, it was a record setter for the pandemic era. So with a few more weeks under our belts, and thousands more vaccines in arms, we decided to take a look at how travel plans are looking for the second of the big three summer holidays; Fourth of July.

TripIt analyzed U.S. origin lodging, rental car, and flight reservations made by our TripIt users for Fourth of July travel and compared the findings to equivalent booking periods in 2019 and 2020.  

We found that travel is starting to look more and more like 2019, though we do have a ways to go before we reach pre-pandemic levels for some travel modes and destinations. Car rentals are making the strongest return, with bookings reaching 262% of 2020 levels and 85% of 2019 levels. We also found that lengths of stays are continuing to increase, especially vacation home rentals, where the percentage of stays longer than a week is up 6x from pre-pandemic levels. Lastly, we found that warm-weather destinations continue to lead the ranks, even in the summer months, with California, Hawaii, and Florida claiming a quarter or more of flights and car rentals.

Current Percentages Compared to Years Prior

2021 Flights (Al)2021
Flights (Domestic)
Flights (International)
2021 Car Rentals2021
Lodging Reservations
Rental Home Reservations
Compared to 2020129%146%92%262%163%109%
Compared to 201944%51%29%85%64%54%

More Travelers Return to the Skies

While TripIt data indicated that Memorial Day air travel in 2021 was down slightly compared to 2020, Fourth of July flights are well exceeding last year’s levels with overall flights at 129% of 2020 levels. However, it seems travelers are mostly taking domestic flights, which are at 145% of 2020 levels, meanwhile international flights are slightly down compared to last year at 92% of 2020 levels. This comes as no surprise since a number of international destinations are only just starting to welcome back American travelers, and many are still not open to visitors.

We are also inching ever closer to pre-pandemic travel levels with overall flights at 44% and domestic flights at 51% of 2019. However, international flights are, as expected, taking a bit longer to recover at only 29% of 2019.

Current Percentage of Flight Reservations Compared to Years Prior

2021 Flights (All)2021 Flights (Domestic)2021 Flights (International)
Compared to 2020129%146%92%
Compared to 201944%51%29%

California, Hawaii, and Florida continue to be top summer travel destinations, with 12% of flights heading to California, 11% to Florida, and 7% to Hawaii as they dominate the top 25. In California, Los Angeles (#9), San Francisco (#10) and San Diego (#13) all make the top 25. Meanwhile, Orlando (#3), Miami (#19) and Fort Lauderdale (#28) are the most popular arrival cities in the Sunshine State. As for Hawaii, Honolulu climbs to #10 after spending the past two years at #18, and Kahului (#12) and Kailua-Kona (#24) also make impressive jumps.

Some new additions to the flights top 25 list include Anchorage, Alaska, which ranks #17, up from #33 in 2020 and #51 in 2019; and San Jose Cabo, which ranks #20 after ranking in the mid-30’s the past two years. As for other climbers of note, Cancun (#7) breaks into the top 10 for the first time in two years.

Flight Destination Rankings and Rank Changes Compared to 2021

2021 RankingCity, State2020 RankingRank Change
(2020 to 2021)
2019 RankingRank Change
(2019 to 2021)
1Las Vegas, NV6521
2Denver, CO311-1
3Orlando, FL52118
4Boston, MA7373
5Seattle, WA4-150
6Chicago, IL1-54-2
8Honolulu, HI18101810
9Los Angeles, CA8-18-1
10San Francisco, CA1339-1
11New York, NY10-16-5
12Kahului, HI153197
13San Diego, CA14110-3
14Salt Lake City, UT1622612
15Portland, OR17212-3
16Pheonix, AZ2153115
17Anchorage, AK33165134
18Minneapolis, MN9-916-2
19Miami, FL2782910
20San Jose Cabo32123717
21Newark, NJ361514-7
22Atlanta, GA19-315-7
23Dallas, TX20-321-2
24Kailua-Kona, HI53295228

While we're not used to seeing London hanging out at #25 (the destination usually ranks in the top five for Fourth of July travel), it's made quite the jump in a few short weeks: It was just recently ranked #66 for Memorial Day 2021. Other usually popular international Fourth of July travel destinations like Paris (#45) and Rome (#55) still have a bit to go for their comebacks; they are however both making promising climbs from Memorial Day when they were ranked #74 and #79, respectively.

Rental Cars Fastest Mode of Transportation to Recover

If we thought Memorial Day car rentals were busy, Fourth of July will be even busier reaching 262% of last year’s reservations! And car rental reservations are making the strongest recovery toward pre-pandemic levels with bookings at 85% of 2019 levels.

Current Percentage of Car Rental Reservations Compared to Years Prior

2021 Car Rentals
Compared to 2020262%
Compared to 201985%

As to where the most popular car rental destinations are? Denver has extended its three-year reign in the #1 spot, while Las Vegas (#4) continues to be a popular road trip destination, up from its two-year spot at #11. Orlando, Fla. maintains its #3 ranking for the second year in a row, while Boston holds steady at #6.

Yet again, California, Florida, and Hawaii take the lion’s share of car rentals, with California and Florida each claiming 11% of reservations, and Hawaii claiming 8%.

Car Rental Destination Rankings and Rank Changes Compared to 2021

2021 RankingCity, State2020 RankingRank Change
(2020 to 2021)
2019 RankingRank Change
(2019 to 2021)
1Denver, CO1010
2Kahului, HI5364
3Orlando, FL3041
4Las Vegas, NV117117
5Chicago, IL8372
6Boston, MA602-4
7Honolulu, HI15881
8Phoenix, AZ1462315
9San Francisco, CA4-52-6
10Salt Lake City, UT166144
11Dallas, TX23122817
12Portland, OR17510-2
13Los Angeles, CA10-35-8
14Lihue, HI13-1162
15San Diego, CA1949-6
16Anchorage, AK7-913-3
17Seatac, WA9-812-5
18Tampa, FL22417-1
19Detroit, MI18-1201
20Seattle, WA25510-1
21Fort Lauderdale, FL265210
22Houston, TX12-103210
23Kailua-Kona, HI21-24926
24Philadelphia, PA4925262
25Miami, FL37125025

While New York, NY (#30) and Brooklyn, NY (#125) have fallen off the top 25, Philadelphia has made a re-entrance at #24. Phoenix (#8) continues its climb from #23 in 2019 and #14 in 2020, as has Dallas (#11) from #28 in 2019 and #23 in 2020.

Add a Day or Take a Week, Longer Stays are Here to Stay

Lodging reservations are also starting to look similar to pre-pandemic levels. Lodging reservations are at 64% of reservations for Fourth of July in 2019 (an increase from 46% when comparing Memorial Day 2021 to 2019), and are well above reservation volume for last year at 163% of 2020 bookings. 

As total booking numbers continue to return to normal, a new trend has taken hold: length of stay. In 2019 the average stay length was 3.23 days. In 2020, that increased to 3.88, and this year the average length is 4.11 days—nearly a full day longer than 2019. After the year we’ve all had, it seems everyone is in need of that extra vacation day (or more).

While the greatest majority of Americans are still staying for 1-4 days, which is just the long holiday weekend, a behavior shift is starting to emerge as we see the share of stays for 5-7 days increasing 20+ percentage points, and increasing for even longer stays as well. Stays of 14+ days have increased 6x and stays of 8-13 days have increased nearly 3x when comparing shares of overall bookings for 2021 and 2019.

Percentage of Lodging Reservations by Length of Stay

1-4 Days5-7 Days8-13 Days14+ Days

The top five lodging destinations are nearly identical to the Memorial Day top five, and are fairly consistent with Fourth of July travel over the past two years, aside from Honolulu (#4), which has climbed from #13 in 2019 and #10 in 2020.

Some other locations climbing the ranks are West Yellowstone, Mont. (#24), which has climbed from #89 in 2019 and #80 in 2020; and Anchorage, Alaska (#8), which has risen from #17 in 2019 and #28 in 2020. As for taking the biggest fall? New Orleans (#21) has dropped from #12 in 2019 and #9 in 2020.

Lodging Destination Rankings and Rank Changes Compared to 2021

2020 RankingCity, State2020 RankingRank Change
(2020 - 2021)
2019 RankingRank Change
(2019 - 2021)
1Las Vegas, NV1021
2New York, NY311-1
3Orlando, FL2-185
4Honolulu, HI106139
5San Diego, CA4-13-2
6Boston, MA15971
7Chicago, IL5-24-3
8Anchorage, AK1810179
9Seattle, WA6-35-4
10San Francisco, CA8-26-4
11Denver, CO11010-1
12Lahaina, HI7-5197
13Portland, OR196141
14Nashville, TN13-1162
15Washington, DC12-311-4
16Los Angeles, CA14-29-7
17Austin, TX170181
18Philadelphia, PA213257
19Atlanta, GA351615-4
20Anaheim, CA200222
21New Orleans, LA9-1212-9
22Portland, ME1421203715
23Salt Lake City, UT4926296
24West Yellowstone, MT80568965
25Savannah, GA3385328

6x Increase in Vacation Rentals Longer Than a Week

While the average length of stays for lodging overall has increased nearly one day since 2019, there are even bigger increases when we look at just the sub-group of vacation rentals. In 2019, the average length of a stay at a vacation rental during the Fourth of July holiday was 4.12 days. In 2020, that increased to 5.23 days, and this year the average stay length at a vacation rental is 5.83 days, a 1.7 day, or 41% increase since 2019. 

Similar to overall lodging, we see a clear behavior shift toward longer stays at vacation rentals. While nearly all travelers during Fourth of July in 2019 stayed 7 days or less (97%), we are now seeing more than 15% staying longer than a week, a 6x increase.

Percentage of Vacation Rental Reservations by Length of Stay

1-4 Days5-7 Days8-13 Days14+ Days

The top five destinations for vacation rentals include some mainstays, and some major changes. San Diego (#1) and Portland, Ore. (#2) maintain their rankings from last year, while Anchorage, Alaska (#3) has climbed from #29 in 2020; Kihei, Hawaii (#4) has climbed from #139 in 2020; and Denver, Colo. (#5) has climbed from it's 2020 rank at #18. 

New additions to the top 25 for vacation rentals include Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. (#14), Philadelphia (#16), Koloa, Hawaii (#20), Savannah, Ga. (#22) and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (#23). 

Vacation Rental Destination Rankings and Rank Changes Compared to 2021

2021 RankingCity, State2020 RankingRank Change
(2020 to 2021)
2019 RankingRank Change
(2019 to 2021)
1San Diego, CA1021
2Portland, OR2064
3Anchorage, AK29261512
4Kihei, HI1391351410
5Denver, CO18134-1
6Chicago, IL5-182
7Seattle, WA4-33-4
8Nashville, TN52447-1
9Hilton Head Island, SC6-32617
10Honolulu, HI56462010
11Brooklyn, NY10-1132
12Breckenridge, CO2614219
13Washington, DC21810-3
14Santa Rosa Beach, FL352338181167
15Austin, TX3621194
16Philadelphia, PA9249083115
17Palm Springs, CA2258770
18Los Angeles, CA7-111-17
19New York, NY371811-8
20Koloa, HI115954828
21Kissimmee, FL20-13211
22Savannah, GA3084624
23Kailua-Kona, HI702679322299
24Lahaina, HI452122-2
25Bend, OR3-2212-13

We are very excited to see travelers getting back to the skies and roads safely, and to see the trends that started with Memorial Day continue for Fourth of July travel. Can we expect even better numbers come Labor Day?

Planning to take a trip this Fourth of July? TripIt is here to help you stay safe as you venture back out. Make sure to add your travel plans to your TripIt itinerary so that you can see COVID-19 travel guidance by destination and airline, find medical facilities (should you need them) in Nearby Places, and local health and medical scores with Neighborhood Safety Scores.

Methodology: TripIt looked at  U.S. origin round-trip  flight, lodging and rental car  reservations made between June 2, 2020, and June 2, 2021, for travel during  the Fourth of July holiday (Thursday, July 1 - Tuesday, July 6, 2021) with a US origin; and equivalent booking periods  in 2019 and 2020. Reservation data in TripIt is provided by users, and is booking provider agnostic.