Number of Christmas-New Year's Travelers Holds Steady In Southern California, Says Auto Club



(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 19, 2007) – The Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting that nearly 5.6 million Southland residents will travel to year-end holiday destinations in the next two weeks – a negligible increase in the record number of travelers who took trips over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday last year.

About 80 percent of Southern California travelers, or nearly 4.5 million people, will go by car to their holiday getaways – an increase of less than one-half of one percent compared to 2006. Another 840,000 will fly to their destinations, which is a decrease of less that one-half of one percent over last year. And nearly 280,000 Southern Californians will ride a bus, train, or cruise ship on their holiday trip, which is about the same number as last year. The travel projections estimate all leisure travel trips of 50 miles or more from home.

Statewide, 8.9 million travelers are predicted to take trips this holiday season, also almost unchanged from last year. Of those, 7.15 million are expected to drive, 1.35 million will fly, and 445,000 will go by other means.

AAA projects that 65.2 million Americans will travel over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday, an increase of less than one percent compared to last year. About 53 million travelers nationwide are expected to drive to their destinations, while 8.9 million are projected to fly to their getaways.

“We saw an all-time record for Christmas-New Year’s travel last year, and economic concerns may be preventing the number of travelers from further increasing this year,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “Travel budgets this year will have to account for higher gas prices – which are about 70 cents a gallon higher than one year ago – and also increased airfares, which are about 16 percent higher than in 2006.”

Hawaii is the top destination for Southern California residents who are flying to holiday getaways, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents. The top driving and cruise destinations for Southern Californians, according to the survey, are:

1) Mexico (driving and cruises)

2) Las Vegas

3) Grand Canyon

4) San Diego

5) Caribbean cruises

The Auto Club 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, and if traveling to the mountains or a snowy area, bring along snow tires or chains.

Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips.

Plan your route ahead of time and bring 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.