Local Holiday Travel to Rise Slightly from 2010

(LOS ANGELES – Dec. 16, 2011) – The number of Southern Californians traveling over the Christmas/New Year holiday period is expected to stay on par with last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The Auto Club projects that 7.13 million local residents will take end-of-year holiday trips – a slight increase of 1.4 percent over last year’s 7 million travelers.
Of the more than seven million local travelers who will take trips of 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, 6.3 million, or nearly 90 percent, will travel by car. That’s a 2.5 percent increase over last year.
More than 575,000 Southern Californians are projected to go by plane, and another 231,000 will go by other means.
Statewide, 11.4 million total travelers are expected, with 10.2 million expected to go by car, 925,000 by plane, and 371,000 by other modes of transportation. Nationally, 91.9 million Americans are expected to take end-of-year getaways, also an increase of 1.4 percent over last year.
“The Christmas/New Year time period is the biggest holiday for travel, both because it is the longest major holiday of the year and because of the high priority for most people to reconnect with distant family and friends at this time of year,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “In a positive sign for the economy, the number of travelers for this holiday period is expected to increase despite higher costs for gas and airfare.”
The most popular destinations for Southern Californians over this Christmas-New Year holiday, according to a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) San Francisco
4) Grand Canyon
5) Anaheim (Disneyland)
Gas prices have been dropping in recent weeks, although they are still 30 cents higher than at this time last year. Most Southern California areas have gas price averages ranging from $3.50 to $3.65 a gallon. To save money on gas during holiday getaways, the Auto Club recommends these tips:
1)      Budget for your trip’s gas expense using FuelCostCalulator.AAA.com, which will allow you to estimate fuel costs using real-time gas price data averages from your origin to destination based on your car’s year, model and make.
2)      To find the least expensive gas prices along your route, AAA.com/TripTik or the TripTik Mobile app allow users to map an area showing gas stations and their recent prices.
3)      Try to pick an off-peak travel time to depart and return home. Driving in traffic congestion wastes gas.
4)      Avoid distracted driving. This will both maximize safety and allow you to better anticipate traffic conditions to avoid sudden braking or changes in speed. A smooth, even driving style is the best way to maximize fuel efficiency.
5)      Pack only what you need for the trip and avoid bringing any heavy items that you don’t plan to use, which will also improve fuel economy.

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