Southern Californians will continue to make travel a high priority during the year-end holidays, continuing the trend seen during all of 2022’s major holiday periods, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The Auto Club is projecting that the year-end holidays will be the second busiest on record for the state and the third busiest ever nationally.
SOUND BITES FOR NEWS PRODUCERS/REPORTERS
This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays. With hybrid work schedules, Auto Club travel advisers are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can return to work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.
By the numbers: 2022 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast
“Consumers are embracing the fact that most domestic and international travel restrictions have been lifted, and they are continuing this year’s trend of making up for lost time with family and friends during the holidays,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “They are also busy booking trips for 2023 and beyond. Cruise lines just experienced their most successful Black Friday sales ever and ship availability is shrinking daily for the most popular travel packages, so our advice to travelers is to act now to make sure they lock in their trips for next year.”
According to a survey of Auto Club travel advisors, the top five destinations for Southern Californians during the 11-day travel period from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) Mexico (cruises and resorts)
4) Grand Canyon/Sedona
5) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
Drivers will be getting a break at the pump this holiday, although gas prices will still likely be the second most expensive on record for this time of year. With prices rapidly declining in recent weeks, those taking a holiday road trip should use a tool such as the free AAA Mobile app to find the cheapest gas stations near them.
For those taking a flight to their holiday destination, the Auto Club recommends:
- Consider travel insurance. With the huge volume of holiday flights, cancellations or extended delays could be more likely, especially in bad weather.
- Download your airline’s app and enable alerts to stay up to date on delays and cancellations.
- Visit TSA.Gov to make sure you comply with carry-on and checked baggage rules. Remember, wrapped gifts in carry-on and checked luggage are subject to inspection, so the wrapping may have to be removed.
- Make reservations for your airport long-term parking to ensure you get a spot.
- Arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights.
Those planning to use a rental car should:
- Book as early as possible to ensure availability and consider non-airport rental offices, which are usually less expensive and sometimes offer transportation from the airport to their location.
- Share flight information with the rental company to protect the reservation if the flight is delayed.
- Make sure to inspect the vehicle before driving it off the lot to note any damage and familiarize yourself with the controls and features.
Across California, AAA expects to come to the roadside rescue of 256,000 motorists over the year-end holiday travel period, usually because of dead batteries, flat tires and people getting locked out of vehicles. To avoid breaking down, make sure to inspect your vehicle ahead of your trip or have it checked at one of the Auto Club’s AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities.
Traffic Bottlenecks Expected This Holiday
According to the transportation analytics firm INRIX, which partners with AAA to provide traffic information on major holidays, most of the heaviest holiday travel traffic will occur between Christmas and New Year’s Day this year. The 11-day holiday spreads out traffic patterns, but in general drivers should try to avoid leaving or returning in the late afternoon and early evening. The top congestion bottlenecks and times for Los Angeles area freeways are expected between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the following dates:
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 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.