Memorial Day Travel Expected To Jump 4.6 Percent In California

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is predicting the biggest one-year jump in Memorial Day holiday travel since 2010 and the largest overall number of Memorial Day holiday travelers since 2005. This year, 2.76 million Southern Californians and 4.44 million statewide are expected to take a long weekend getaway – a 4.6 percent increase over the number of 2014 travelers.


It’s the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since the all-time record of 3.2 million in the Southland and 5.18 million statewide, which was set in 2005.


Among Southern California travelers, 2.31 million are expected to travel by car- a 5.6 percent increase from last year and a number representing about 83 percent of all travelers. Another 260,000 local residents are expected to go by plane, which is a 2.6 percent increase over the 2014 holiday. And about 183,000 local travelers will take a recreational vehicle, cruise, bus or train trip this weekend – a 3.4 percent decrease from last year.


Statewide, about 83 percent of the projected 4.44 million travelers, or 3.73 million, are expected to go by car, a 5.6 percent increase over 2014. About 419,000 statewide are projected to fly, a 2.6 percent increase from 2014, and 294,000 will go by other means, a 3.4 percent decrease from 2014.


The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home, and the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25


“This holiday weekend is a promising start to the summer travel season, and it shows that Southern Californians are placing a high value on travel and feel confident that they can spend money on it,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “The currency situation is particularly favorable for Americans wanting to visit Europe, although the dollar has been losing some ground against the Euro recently.”


Nationally, travel is expected to increase by 4.7 percent compared to last year’s Memorial Day holiday, with 37.2 million travelers expected compared to 35.5 million in 2014. Car travel is expected to rise by 5.3 percent to 33 million, while air travel is expected to rise 2.5 percent this year to 2.6 million, and “other” travel will drop 3.6 percent to 1.6 million.


Because of recent price spikes, most Southern California travelers will be paying near or above $4 a gallon to fill up for their trips, although prices are likely to be slightly lower than last year.


The top Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents, are:


1) San Diego

2) San Francisco

3) Grand Canyon

4) Mexico (cruises, flights and drive trips)

5) Las Vegas


Memorial Day travel projections are based on research conducted for AAA by IHS Global Insight.