Auto Club: 3.87 Million Southern Californians To Travel Over Thanksgiving

thanksgiving wooden crate turkey

The Automobile Club of Southern California is expecting this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to be the busiest one locally for travel since 2007, with 3.87 million residents expected to get away for the long weekend. That’s a 3.6 percent increase over last year’s 3.74 million travelers.


Almost 86 percent of local travelers – 3.3 million – will be going by car to their destinations, a 3.5 percent increase from last year’s 3.2 million automotive travelers. Another 429,000 Southern Californians are expected to go by air, which is an increase of 5.4 percent from the 2016 holiday’s 407,000 plane travelers, while 77,000 will go by other means – about the same as last year.


Statewide, 6.26 million are projected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, also a 3.6 percent increase from last year and the highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2007, when 6.44 million Californians took a holiday trip. The Auto Club is expecting 5.37 million statewide to go by car, which is up 3.5 percent from last year, and another 693,000 to fly – a 5.4 percent increase from last year. More than 200,000 are expected to take other transportation, about the same as last year.


Nationally, AAA predicts that 50.9 million Americans will take a trip at least 50 miles away from home during next week’s holiday, a 3.3 percent increase from 2016 and the highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2005. Nationally, 89 percent of travelers – 45.5 million – will go by car, which is 3.2 percent higher than last year. About 3.3 million will fly, which is a five percent increase from last year’s Thanksgiving holiday.


“Jet fuel has been significantly less expensive in the last couple of years, enabling airlines to add capacity and lower fares, which is partly why we are seeing a bigger increase in air travel,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.


California gas prices have skyrocketed in the last two weeks to their highest levels in more than two years and are likely to remain above $3.20 on average in most areas throughout the holiday weekend. This will be the most expensive Thanksgiving to fill up since 2013, when Los Angeles gas prices averaged more than $3.60 a gallon.


Top Destinations

Nationally, Anaheim is expected to be the second most popular Thanksgiving destination for Americans eager to visit the Disneyland Resort. The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:

1) San Francisco

2) San Diego

3) Anaheim

4) Grand Canyon

5) Santa Barbara


Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road


Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evenings next Tuesday and Wednesday as commuters mix with holiday travelers.


INRIX data indicates that in Los Angeles, the worst holiday traffic will hit between 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday. Drivers in that traffic will see their travel times more than double, and that will also be the worst time to drive to Los Angeles International Airport. INRIX also identified the worst traffic hotspot in the U.S. as southbound Interstate 5 at Valley View Avenue in La Mirada.


Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving

AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

About the AAA travel forecast

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.


INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Editors: Broadcast-quality downloadable video of Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe providing Thanksgiving travel forecast information is available at - password Thanksgiving2017

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 885-2333
Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact