Lower-than-expected job and economic growth are expected to keep local Thanksgiving travel at about the same level as last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The Auto Club is projecting 3.54 million local residents and 5.7 million statewide will take a holiday getaway. That’s an increase of six-tenths of 1 percent from last year.
The number of local residents traveling at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 29 is the highest for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2007, when 4 million Southern Californians and 6.4 million statewide took trips.
For both Southern California and the state, nearly 86 percent of travelers are expected to drive and 11 percent are expected to go by air. About 3.03 million Southern Californians will travel by car – a 0.7 percent increase over 2014. More than 380,000 are projected to fly, which is a 0.4 percent decrease from last year. Statewide, 4.9 million will drive to holiday destinations, and 616,000 will go by plane.
Nationally, 46.9 million people are expected to travel over this holiday weekend, which is an increase of 0.6 percent from last year. Eighty-nine percent, or 41.9 million, will drive to their destinations, and 3.6 million are expected to fly.
"Air travelers can expect crowds and increased security over this holiday, so we recommend arriving at the airport at least two to three hours early for domestic flights and three to four hours ahead for international flights,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. "As usual, Southern California road traffic will be heavy and unpredictable during Thanksgiving weekend, particularly on Wednesday and Sunday, so travelers should plan accordingly. GPS navigation with real-time traffic information is a great tool, but be sure to have a passenger operate it to avoid distractions.”
The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Francisco
3) San Diego
4) Grand Canyon
5) Santa Barbara and Central Coast
Southern California gas prices are about 30 cents lower for Thanksgiving travelers than at this time last year.
The Auto Club’s Thanksgiving forecast was developed in conjunction with IHS, the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape.