(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 17, 2010) – The Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting that local travel will increase for the end-of-year holidays by 3 percent compared to 2009. About 7.2 million Southland residents are expected to take a trip of 50 miles or more during the Christmas-New Year travel period.
As with the Thanksgiving holiday, the vast majority of travelers are expected to drive to their destinations. Ninety-one percent of Southern California travelers, or 6.6 million people, will travel by car this holiday – also a 3 percent increase from last year. Fewer than 300,000 local travelers are projected to fly – a 2.9 percent increase from 2009, while less than 350,000 plan a cruise, bus trip, train trip or other type of travel, which is a 1.8 percent increase.
Statewide, 11.6 million travelers are expected to make getaways this holiday, with 10.6 million auto travelers, 478,000 plane passengers, and 560,000 travelers going by other means.
National travel is also projected to increase by about 3 percent over last year, with 92 million Americans expected to take holiday trips. About 93 percent of them, or 85.7 million, will drive to their destinations.
“The number of air travelers and cruise passengers is still lower than in prior years, but we’ve been moving in the right direction throughout 2010,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Our members are traveling more, spending more and often going greater distances on their trips.”
In a separate poll conducted by the Auto Club regarding November and December holidays, 75 percent of local travelers said they planned to spend at least $500 on their holiday getaways, compared to just 52 percent in 2009. Also, 33 percent of travelers plan to spend at least $1,500 on their trips compared to 17 percent in 2009.
The top five end-of-year holiday destinations, according to a survey of local AAA travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) Grand Canyon
3) Anaheim (Disneyland)
4) San Diego
5) San Francisco
Travelers will be paying some of the highest gas prices of the year during their getaways, with local fuel price averages near $3.30 a gallon. The Auto Club recommends that travelers pack light, use the most fuel-efficient vehicle they have, map out their route and look up the cheapest places to buy gas along the way at AAA.com/triptik . They can also calculate an estimated fuel budget for their trip at fuelcostcalculator.aaa.com .