(LOS ANGELES – May 23, 2011) – Memorial Day travel will stay at about the same level as last year for Southern California, with high gas prices cutting back the number of drivers compared to 2010 but air travel increasing, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
About 2.62 million Southland residents are expected to take overnight getaways at least 50 miles away from home this holiday weekend – a very slight increase of two-tenths of one percent from last year. The vast majority of local travelers – 2.2 million – will go by car, which is a decrease of four-tenths of a percent from 2010. However, an 11.4 percent increase in air travel is projected, with 288,000 Southern California residents expected to fly to their destinations.
Statewide and nationally, Memorial Day travel is expected to hold steady also. In California, 4.22 million holiday travelers are expected, compared to 4.21 million last year. Eighty-four percent of them, or 3.57 million are expected to drive, a slight decrease from 3.58 million last year, and 464,000 are projected to fly, an 11.4 percent increase from last year’s 416,000 holiday air travelers.
Nationwide, total holiday travel is also expected to increase just by 0.2 percent to 34.89 million, with 30.88 million driving (a 0.3 percent decrease) and 2.9 million flying (an 11.5 percent increase) to their Memorial Day destinations.
“Travel continued to see an uptick in early 2011, particularly for those booking vacations well in advance," said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services. "Here at AAA, an increased number of travelers made Memorial Day travel plans in January or February – before the significant gas price increases took place. But even now, we're hearing from members that they will adjust their spending to make sure they can take a vacation this holiday weekend and throughout this summer."
The top Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) San Francisco
4) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
The top national park destinations are the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. The top air destination besides Las Vegas is Honolulu.
Although gas prices have been dropping in recent days, they are still about a dollar higher than this time last year. The Auto Club recommends that travelers budget for their car trips by using FuelCostCalculator.com, which calculates an estimated gas cost for drivers’ make, model and year of vehicle using real-time regional gas price averages. Those with Android devices or iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches can also download the free AAA TripTik Mobile app, which provides turn-by-turn directions as well as real-time gas prices for 100,000 stations around the U.S. and other valuable travel information on attractions, hotel and restaurant AAA Diamond ratings and local events. AAA Triptik is also available online at AAA.com/triptik.
The Auto Club also recommends that automobile travelers keep the following tips in mind:
- Travel during off-peak times to avoid congestion.
- Check your vehicle’s fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires.
- Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips. Plan to stop about every two hours so children can get out of the car to stretch and burn off energy.
- Plan your route ahead of time and bringing along a map in case you need to choose an alternate route. Motorists can call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623 for interstate and state route lane closures and highway closures. The information is updated hourly.
- Take care with children by properly using safety belts and car seats, and accompanying them into the restroom during travel breaks.
- Choose a well-lit, populated area for rest stops when driving at night.