Auto Club: More than Four Million Southern Californians To Travel Over Thanksgiving

Santa Ana, California, UNITED STATES

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Automobile Club of Southern California is expecting this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to be the busiest one locally for travel since 2005, with 4.2 million Southern California residents expected to get away for the long weekend. That’s a 5.1 percent increase over last year.

By the Numbers

The vast majority of Southern California travelers – 3.6 million or 86 percent of all travelers – will drive to their destinations, a 5.1 percent increase over last year. Another 476,000 Southern Californians are expected to fly, which is an increase of 5.9 percent from the 2017 holiday, while 123,000 will go by other means (train, bus or cruise) – a 1.2 percent increase from last year.

Below are the statewide and nationwide projected travel numbers for Thanksgiving 2018, along with their expected percentage increase from the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as five days from Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25, and a holiday trip is defined as one at least 50 miles from home.

 Mode of travelCalifornia US 
 Total6.8 million (+5.1%) 54.2 million (+4.8%) 
 Car5.9 million (+5.1%) 48.5 million (+4.9%) 
 Air771,000 (+5.9%) 4.3 million (+5.4%) 
 Other (train, bus or cruise)199,000 (+1.2%) 1.5 million (+1.4%) 

The all-time record number of Thanksgiving travelers was set in 2005, when 58.6 million nationwide, 6.9 million statewide and nearly 4.3 million in Southern California took holiday trips.

“Even with an average five percent increase in Thanksgiving holiday airfares over last year, consumer confidence has continued to increase demand for air-travel destinations,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

Top Destinations

Nationwide, Anaheim is expected to be the third most popular destination for Thanksgiving travelers, according to AAA’s online and travel agency bookings.

A survey of the Auto Club’s travel agents reveals the top five destinations for Southern Californians this holiday are:

1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) San Francisco
4) Grand Canyon
5) Anaheim

Best and Worst Times to Leave

The transportation analytics firm INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion Thanksgiving week during the early evening commute period, with travel times starting to increase on Monday.

In general, the Auto Club recommends travelers plan an early morning start. If travelers’ schedules are flexible, the best days to travel during Thanksgiving week will likely be early Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“No matter when drivers leave for their holiday trips, we remind them, ‘Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated,’” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “An increase in traffic requires extra focus on the road ahead and we want drivers to remember texting while driving could lead to the same deadly consequences as alcohol-impaired driving.”

According to INRIX, the heaviest congestion period in Southern California will be between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, on southbound Interstate 5 between Pacific Coast Highway in south Orange County (Exit 79) and Coast Highway in Oceanside (Exit 54B).

The worst time to leave from downtown Los Angeles for LAX via I-110 South over this holiday period, according to INRIX, will be Tuesday, Nov. 20 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Gas Prices

Southern California gas prices are dropping at a fairly steady pace from their highest levels since 2014, but are expected to still be 50 to 60 cents higher per gallon than during last year’s holiday. The Auto Club recommends that travelers use a free app like AAA Mobile to shop virtually for the cheapest gas prices along their route.

AAA to Rescue More than 100,000 California Motorists

AAA expects to help 101,000 stranded drivers in California and nearly 360,000 at the roadside across the country during this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the main reasons for members to call AAA for a roadside rescue. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

Marie Montgomery/Jeffrey Spring
(714) 885-2333

Doug Shupe in Los Angeles:
(512) 659-1632