This year-end holiday travel season will set a new all-time record for the number of travelers in the Southland, California, and the U.S., according to projections from the Automobile Club of Southern California. Nearly 7.7 million Southern California residents and 12.4 million statewide are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from home during the holiday period between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 – a 1.8 percent increase compared to 2015.
Eighty-nine percent of travelers, or 6.8 million Southern Californians and 10.9 million statewide, will travel by car to their destinations – a 1.7 percent increase from last year when 6.7 million Southland residents and 10.8 million Californians took cars to holiday getaways. More than 627,000 local residents and one million Californians are expected to fly, which is a 4.8 percent increase over 2015’s 598,000 air travelers from Southern California and 965,000 statewide.
Nationally, AAA projects 103 million travelers over the Christmas-New Year holiday, topping last year’s 101.5 million end-of-year travelers by 1.5 percent.
This marks the eighth consecutive year of growth for end-of-year holiday travel.
“This holiday period is the longest one of the year and the most popular one for travelers because so many make it a priority to reunite with family either with a faraway visit or a vacation,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “In recent years, we’ve also seen an uptick in pre-holiday vacations such as river cruises to see European Christmas markets and the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express.”
Gas prices will be very similar to last year’s holiday travel period, with averages in the $2.65-$2.80 range throughout most of Southern California.
The most popular destinations for Southern Californians over this Christmas-New Year holiday, according to a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas (No. 1 destination for U.S. travelers)
2) San Diego (No. 3 destination nationwide)
3) San Francisco
4) Mexico (cruise, resort and drive trips)
5) Mammoth and Southern California ski areas
Southern Californians’ top air destination for the end-of-year holidays is Hawaii.
AAA Mobile App
Before setting out on a holiday trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
About AAA's Holiday 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 2016 year-end holiday travel forecast can be found here.