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3.3 Million In SoCal Will Travel For Memorial Day, More Than Pre-Pandemic

Planes, Buses, Trains And Cruises Will See The Largest Increases In Passenger Volumes

Mem Day 2023 Hero

Memorial Day 2023 soundbites in English from Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe

Memorial Day 2023 soundbites in Spanish from Auto Club Spokesperson Anlleyn Venegas

The Automobile Club of Southern California projects 3.3 million people will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 7.7% increase from last year and nearly half a percent higher than in 2019, before the pandemic began. Nationwide, AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel for the holiday weekend, a 7% increase from 2022 and down just 1 percent from in 2019. The Memorial Day travel period is defined as five days from Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29. The expected travel volume for the unofficial start of summer is a sign of what’s to come in the months ahead.

“This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products. “Despite higher ticket prices than last year, demand for flights is skyrocketing and this Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.”

Memorial Day Travel Volumes by Modes of Transportation

Mem Day 23 chart

Best/Worst Times to Drive

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Friday, May 26 to be the busiest day on the roads nationwide during the long Memorial Day weekend. The best times to travel by car are in the morning or evening after 6 p.m. In Southern California, the peak congestion will occur on I-5 South between Los Angeles and San Diego on Sunday afternoon when the estimated travel time will be 3 hours and 24 minutes, an increase of 47% compared to the typical drive time.

Top Destinations this Memorial Day Weekend

AAA booking data for the Memorial Day weekend shows tourist hotspots like Orlando, New York City, and Las Vegas are top domestic destinations. Cruise port cities in Florida and Alaska, as well as Seattle, are high on the list given the 50% increase in domestic cruise bookings compared to last year. Other popular U.S. cities this Memorial Day include Denver, Boston, Anaheim, and Canton, Ohio – home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. According to Auto Club travel advisors, top five destinations for Southern Californians this Memorial Day weekend will be:

1)         Las Vegas

2)         San Diego

3)         Santa Barbara

4)         Grand Canyon

5)         Palm Springs

Travelers are paying more for Memorial Day trips this year, in large part due to the rising cost of airline tickets and hotel accommodations. AAA booking data shows a 40% increase in airfare to this year’s top destinations. But that’s not stopping travelers from booking flights abroad. International travel is surging with bookings 250% higher this holiday weekend compared to 2022. European cities are the most popular, including Rome, Paris, Dublin, London, Barcelona, and Athens. International car rentals are up more than 80% over 2022. Hotel prices in the U.S. and internationally are 25% to 50% higher compared to last year.

Auto Club Offers Travel Tips this Memorial Day and Beyond

  • Inspect vehicle tires, battery, and fluid levels before a long road trip. Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 460,000 stranded drivers at the roadside, including more than 116,000 in California.
  • Pack food, water, an emergency kit, first-aid kit, and mobile phone charger in case you breakdown.
  • Reserve airport parking ahead of time to save you time on departure day.
  • Get to airports at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.
  • Sign up for TSA PreCheck or Clear to speed up the security process.
  • Download airline’s app and use FlightAware to track your aircraft the day of departure.
  • Avoid checking a bag, if possible. Carry-on luggage allows you to be more flexible in the event of a delay or cancellation.
  • Book summer travel now! High demand and reduced schedules will mean fewer options.
  • Work with a trusted Auto Club travel advisor who can save you money and assist in rebooking should you need to.
  • Consider travel insurance to protect your investment.

Media Contacts

Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632

Anlleyn Venegas
Public Affairs Specialist. English/Spanish Language Media Spokesperson
(619) 565-4556

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.