The Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting that the number of Thanksgiving travelers from Southern California will stay on par with last year. About 3.37 million Southland residents are expected to vacation over the holiday weekend – an increase of six-tenths of one percent over last year’s 3.35 million local travelers.
About 87 percent of travelers, or 2.93 million, are expected to travel by car – a 0.5 percent increase over 2011. Another 341,000 will fly – a 1.8 percent decrease, and 105,000 will go by other means.
"Thanksgiving holiday travel is continuing to bounce back from the recession years of 2008 and 2009," said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club's vice president for travel. "This year's projected number of Southern California travelers is on track to be slightly higher than the 10-year average number of Thanksgiving travelers from 2002 through 2011, which is 3.34 million."
Statewide, 5.43 million travelers are expected this weekend, also an increase of less than 1 percent over last year. About 4.71 million of them will be driving to their holiday destinations, while 549,000 are expected to fly and 169,000 will go by bus, RV, train or cruise ship.
Nationally, 43.56 million people are expected to travel over this holiday weekend, which is an increase of seven-tenths of one percent from last year. Ninety percent, or 39.1 million, will drive to their destinations, and 3.1 million are expected to fly.
The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) San Francisco
4) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
5) Grand Canyon
According to IHS Global Insight, which conducts holiday travel research and calculates holiday travel projections for AAA, this year’s holiday travelers are planning to spend less on their trips than in 2011. As a result, travelers plan to spend less on lodging and are slightly cutting their spending on dining out and sightseeing.
Auto Club Tips for Travelers
The Auto Club offers the following tips for travelers:
- Avoid traffic by trying to pick an off-peak travel time to depart or return home. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening will likely be the most congested period for outbound traffic, and Sunday afternoon and evening will probably be busy for returning traffic.
- If you choose to travel at night or very early in the morning, make sure to get at least six hours of sleep. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake, pull over to a safe, lit area and take a nap. During long-distance car trips, try to stop every couple of hours to get out and stretch, which will help keep you alert as you drive.
- Plan your route before you leave and check traffic online at AAA.com/TripTik or on the free TripTik Mobile app for smartphones. For hourly updated lane closures and highway closures in California, call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623.
- If you are flying to your destination, plan to arrive at least two to three hours before your flight departs to allow for long lines at check-in and security checkpoints. Check with your travel agent regarding how early you should arrive for international flights. Utilize the online check-in feature offered by all major airlines to check in, usually up to 24 hours ahead of time.
- To prepare for future trips over the December holidays or in 2013, Auto Club members can visit any branch from Nov. 19 to Nov. 30 to obtain free passport photos (normally offered to members for $8). The $15 non-member fee for passport photos will still be charged to non-members.