(LOS ANGELES, June 27, 2005) — More than 3.5 million Southern Californians and nearly 5.7 million residents statewide are expected to take advantage of the Fourth of July holiday to make a getaway, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. That's a 3.1 percent increase over last year.
Nearly 80 percent of holiday travelers are expected to take a road trip of 50 miles or more — 2.8 million Southern California travelers and nearly 4.5 million statewide, which is a 2.7 percent increase over last year despite gas prices that are higher than this time last year.
Air travel in California over the holiday is expected to increase by 5.1 percent compared to last year, with 560,000 Southern Californians and 897,000 state residents expected to fly to holiday destinations. About 177,000 Southland residents and 283,000 Californians are expected to cruise, take a train or ride the bus to a holiday trip — a 3.1 percent increase over last year.
"Our travel agents are overwhelmingly reporting that their bookings have increased compared to last year, both for the Fourth of July and for the summer travel season overall," said Diana Meinhold, the Auto Club's vice president for travel. "Our members are feeling secure about taking trips, and we're predicting that will translate into a new record for Fourth of July travel."
The top destinations for Southern Californians over this holiday, according to a survey of the Auto Club's AAA Travel, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) Mexico (cruises, air and driving trips)
4) San Francisco
More than 40 million Americans are expected to take Fourth of July trips, a 2.8 percent increase from the 39.2 million who traveled last year. National and state travel projections are based on a survey of 1,300 adults conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America for AAA.
Holiday travelers will be paying gas prices of more than $2.40 or $2.50 a gallon in many Southern California areas, and even those driving out-of-state aren't likely to find prices below $2 a gallon, as record-high crude oil prices have started pushing pump prices upward again.
The Auto Club advises motorists to plan their routes by calling the California Highway Information Number at 1-800-427-7623 for interstate and state route lane closures and highway closures. The information is updated hourly.
More Auto Club tips for holiday travelers include:
- Consider driving during off-peak times to avoid congestion, but make sure you have at least six hours of sleep to avoid drowsy driving.
- Check your vehicle's fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires before leaving.
- Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips.
- Take care with children by properly using safety belts, car seats, and booster seats, and by accompanying them into the restroom during travel breaks.
- Choose a well-lit, populated area for rest stops when driving at night.
- Air travelers should make sure to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights during this busy travel season, and to find out from a travel agent or the airport ahead of time about security procedures to avoid unnecessary delays.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com.