Slight Downturn Expected For Thanksgiving Travel, Says Auto Club

(LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21, 2008) More than 3.2 million Southern Californians are expected to travel over this holiday weekend – a decrease of more than 2 percent from last Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

About 82 percent of local Thanksgiving travelers – or 2.68 million people – will go by car to their holiday destinations, also a decrease of more than 2 percent over last year. Another 344,000 Southland residents are expected to fly to their destinations – a 5 percent decrease, while 222,000 will take a cruise, train or bus.

“There’s no doubt that recent economic uncertainty is impacting Thanksgiving travel,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “But the good news for travelers is that this is the cheapest 2008 holiday for car travel, with gas prices about half of what they were over the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.”

Statewide, 5.2 million people are expected to take holiday trips this weekend, also a decrease of more than 2 percent over last year. Of those, 4.3 million are expected to drive and 551,000 are projected to take air trips.

Nationally, a decrease of more than 1 percent in travel is expected, with 41 million Americans expected to take Thanksgiving trips.

Southern Californians will mainly stay close to home over Thanksgiving, although some are taking longer-distance trips because of the four-day weekend. The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:
  1. San Diego
  2. Mexico (cruises and resort stays)
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Francisco
  5. Grand Canyon

Around the state, travelers can expect to pay prices near $2 a gallon for gasoline – the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2004.

The Auto Club advises motorists to plan their routes by calling the California Highway Information Number at 1-800-427-7623 for interstate and state route lane closures and highway closures. The information is updated hourly.

More Auto Club tips for holiday travelers include:
  • Consider driving during off-peak times to avoid congestion, but make sure you have at least six hours of sleep to avoid drowsy driving.
  • Check your vehicle's fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires before leaving.
  • Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips.
  • Take care with children by properly using safety belts, car seats, and booster seats, and by accompanying them into the restroom during travel breaks.
  • Choose a well-lit, populated area for rest stops when driving at night.
  • Air travelers should make sure to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights during the holiday travel season, and to find out from a travel agent or the airport ahead of time about security procedures to avoid unnecessary delays.