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Auto Club: Record Number of Southern Californians Will Travel During Year-End Holidays

9.5 Million Expected To Take Holiday Trips

Travel, Automotive
YE Travel ACSC Thumbnail 23

Year-end holiday travel 2023 video soundbites from Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe

The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts 9.5 million Southern Californians will travel during the year-end holiday period this year – a 3% increase from last year and a 2% increase from 2019, the last year-end holiday period before the pandemic. Across the nation, AAA is projecting this year-end holiday travel period to be the second busiest on record, with 115.2 million travelers expected compared to 119.3 million in 2019.

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as the 10 days from Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023, to Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

By the Numbers

SOCAL Travel Volume YE 2023
SOCAL_US Travel Volume YE 2023

“With a new record for year-end travel among Southern Californians, we are expecting roads, airports and cruise ports to be very busy this month,” said Jena Miller, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Consumer demand for leisure travel has surged this year, and it appears that the momentum is set to carry on into 2024.”

Top Destinations

This holiday season, many travelers are heading to warm weather destinations, tourist hotspots, and European cities. The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of AAA Travel advisors, are:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. San Diego
  3. Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
  4. Palm Springs/Coachella Valley
  5. Grand Canyon

Nationally, the top domestic destinations for U.S. travelers are:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Anaheim, CA
  3. Chicago, IL
  4. Charlotte, NC
  5. Miami, FL

And the top international destinations are:

  1. London, England
  2. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  3. Aruba
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Toronto, Canada.

Gas Prices

Southern Californians who drive to their holiday destinations will be paying slightly more at the pump than last year unless gas prices start dropping significantly. Gas price averages statewide are now mostly below $5 a gallon but are about 10 cents higher than this time last year. To find the cheapest gas prices closest to your location, use the AAA Mobile app, and visit gasprices.aaa.com to find the average gas prices at your destination or calculate the estimated gas cost for your holiday trip.

Travel Tips

  • If traveling by automobile, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up-to-date and your tires and battery are in good condition. AAA expects to respond to more than 200,000 calls for help in California over the year-end holiday travel period. If you need some help getting your vehicle road trip ready, visit AAA.com/AAR to find a reputable AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Air travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international departures. The Auto Club recommends people who drive themselves to the airport to reserve a parking space to make sure you have one, download your airline’s app and check-in for your flight at home to avoid long lines at kiosks in the terminal.

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says there will be several days of potentially bad traffic during the 10-day holiday period. INRIX projects the largest travel congestion period in Southern California will be southbound I-5 between Bakersfield and Los Angeles the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 27. Saturday, Dec. 23 is also projected to be a busy travel day, with northbound I-15 between San Diego and I-10 expected to be especially congested. The best times to hit the road are before lunchtime or after 7 p.m.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 64 million members across North America, including 57 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com.

Media Contacts

Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
(512) 659-1632
shupe.doug@aaa-calif.com
Anlleyn Venegas
Public Affairs Specialist. Spanish-Language Media Spokesperson , Auto Club Enterprises
(619) 565-4556
Venegas.Anlleyn@ace.aaa.com
Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)
Montgomery.Marie@aaa-calif.com
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.