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Southern California Thanksgiving Travel Continues to Bounce Back from 2008-2009

(LOS ANGELES – Nov. 18, 2011) – For the first time this year, the Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting an increase in holiday travel compared to 2010. The number of Southland residents expected to take Thanksgiving weekend vacations is expected to increase by 4.1 percent over last year to 3.3 million people.
Of the 3.3 million local travelers, 86 percent, or 2.8 million, are expected to travel by car – also a 4.1 percent increase. Another 386,000 will fly – a 1.9 percent increase, and 91,000 will go by other means.
Thanksgiving travel among Southern Californians dipped by 26 percent between 2007 and 2008, then by another two percent in 2009. Last year, travel increased by 10.4 percent to 3.19 million Southern Californians.
The Auto Club forecasted declines in travel this year for the Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays.
“Many Southland residents continue to have financial concerns, but more people have decided this year that despite those concerns, they will celebrate Thanksgiving with a vacation to create lasting memories with family and friends,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “Those who have put off vacations all year, or maybe for a couple of years, are realizing they need to get away and they are finding ways to do it even on a tight budget.”
Statewide, 5.3 million travelers are expected this weekend, also a 4.1 percent increase over last year. Nearly 4.58 million of them will be driving to their holiday destinations, while 621,000 are expected to fly and 145,000 will go by bus, train or cruise ship.
Nationally, 42.5 million people are expected to travel over this holiday weekend, which is a four percent increase from last year. Ninety percent, or 38.2 million, will drive to their destinations, and 3.37 million are expected to fly.
The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) San Francisco
4) Grand Canyon
5) Anaheim (Disneyland)
The Auto Club offers the following tips for Thanksgiving travelers:
  • Avoid traffic by trying to pick an off-peak travel time to depart or return home. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening will likely be the most congested period for outbound traffic, and Sunday afternoon and evening will probably be busy for returning traffic.
  • If you choose to travel at night or very early in the morning, make sure to get at least six hours of sleep. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake, pull over to a safe, lit area and take a nap. During long-distance car trips, try to stop every couple of hours to get out and stretch, which will help keep you alert as you drive.
  • Plan your route before you leave and check traffic online at or on the free TripTik Mobile app for smartphones. For hourly updated lane closures and highway closures in California, call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623. 
  • If you are flying to your destination, plan to arrive at least two to three hours before your flight departs to allow for long lines at check-in and security checkpoints. Check with your travel agent regarding how early you should arrive for international flights. Utilize the online check-in feature offered by all major airlines to check in, usually up to 24 hours ahead of time.

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)
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.