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Auto Club: SoCal Memorial Day Travel Will Top All-Time Record From 2005

Anaheim Among Top Ten Holiday Destinations For Americans

Car packed
Photo copyright Jessica Spengler by/4.0/

The Automobile Club of Southern California expects this Memorial Day holiday weekend to be the busiest on record for the state and locally, with 5.19 million Californians and 3.21 million from Southern California expected to take trips. In 2005, when the previous travel record was set, 5.18 million statewide and 3.2 million Southern Californians traveled over Memorial Day.

The Auto Club projects the number of travelers to grow by 5.3 percent from 2017, when 4.9 million California residents and 3.04 million locally made Memorial Day weekend getaways. It’s the seventh consecutive year that travel for this holiday has grown.

Among Southern California travelers, 2.68 million are expected to travel by car - a 5.2 percent increase from last year’s 2.54 million going by auto and a number representing 83.5 percent of all travelers. Another 326,000 local residents are expected to go by plane, which is a 7.5 percent increase over the 2017 holiday’s 303,000 air travelers. And about 202,000 local travelers will take a recreational vehicle, cruise, bus, train, or other mode of trip this weekend – a 3.4 percent increase from the 196,000 who traveled by other means last year.

Statewide, about 84 percent of travelers, or 4.33 million, are expected to go by car, a 5.2 percent increase from 2017. About 528,000 statewide are projected to fly, a 7.5 percent increase from last year, and 327,000 will go by other means, a 3.4 percent increase from 2017.

The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home, and the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.

“Gas prices are about 24 percent higher in Southern California than they were at this time last year with an average price near $3.75 a gallon, but consumer confidence combined with a strong labor market and projected GDP growth are the primary reasons that holiday travel is expected to increase,” said Jeffrey Spring, Auto Club spokesperson.

Nationally, 41.5 million Americans are expected to take Memorial Day weekend trips – a 4.8 percent increase over last year, but not quite as high as the all-time national Memorial Day travel record of 44 million set in 2005. Car travel is expected to rise by 4.7 percent to 36.6 million, while air travel is expected to rise 6.8 percent this year to 3.1 million, and other modes of travel will increase by 2.4 percent to 1.8 million.

Also, Anaheim will be the seventh most popular destination for Americans this holiday, according to advance bookings from AAA Travel. The top destinations are:

  1. Orlando
  2. Seattle
  3. Honolulu
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Anchorage
  6. Phoenix
  7. Anaheim
  8. Boston
  9. Denver
  10. New York

Locally, the top five Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents, are:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. San Diego
  3. Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
  4. San Francisco
  5. Yosemite National Park

In partnership with the traffic forecasting firm INRIX, AAA is projecting that the worst time to leave for the long weekend in the Los Angeles metropolitan area will be during the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25. Local freeways expected to experience the worst holiday-related traffic delays are:

  1. US Route 101 East – Travel time increase of up to 47 percent
  2. Interstate 5 South – Up to 43 percent time delay
  3. Interstate 405 South – Up to 35 percent time delay

The Auto Club reminds all drivers this holiday weekend “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” This new multi-year traffic safety initiative aims to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as alcohol-impaired driving. Radio and television Public Service Announcements this holiday weekend will target drivers who would never consider drinking alcohol behind the wheel, and yet, regularly engage with mobile devices when driving. Put down your phones. Lives Depend on it. For more information, visit

Memorial Day travel projections are based on research conducted for AAA by IHS Global Insight.


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.