- Business Advocacy
The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Alhambra branch has seen a strong start to the summer travel season this year. According to its holiday travel projections, Memorial Day travel was expected to grow by 3.4% locally over last year, with 3.03 million people in the Southland and 4.89 million statewide expected to make getaways for the long weekend
It’s the sixth consecutive year that the number of Memorial Day travelers has grown compared to the previous year. This year was expected to have the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since the all-time record of 3.2 million in the Southland and 5.18 million statewide, which was set in 2005.
Among Southern California travelers, 2.52 million were expected to travel by car — a 2.9% increase from last year’s 2.45 million going by auto and a number representing about 84% of all travelers. Another 300,000 local residents were expected to go by plane, which is a 6.2% increase over the 2016 holiday’s 282,000 air travelers. And about 197,000 local travelers were projected to take a recreational vehicle, cruise, bus, train, or other mode of trip this weekend — a 4.9% increase from the 188,000 who traveled by other means in 2016.
Statewide, about 84% of travelers, or 4.08 million, were expected to go by car, a 2.9% increase over 2016. About 485,000 statewide were projected to fly, a 6.2% increase from last year, and 456,000 were expected to go by other means, a 4.9% increase from 2016.
The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home, and the Memorial Day holiday travel period was defined as Thursday, May 25, to Monday, May 29.
“One significant trend we are seeing this year is solid growth in the number of air travelers, which also tends to signify longer vacations that are a greater distance away from home,” said Jackie Garcia, the Auto Club’s Alhambra branch manager.
Nationally, travel was expected to increase by 2.7% compared to last year’s Memorial Day holiday, with 39.29 million travelers expected compared to 38.27 million in 2015. Car travel was expected to rise by 2.4% to 34.6 million, while air travel was expected to rise 5.5% this year to 2.9 million, and other modes of travel were expected to increase by 2.9% to 1.75 million.
Gas prices have stayed steady in Southern California throughout most of the spring, hovering near $3 a gallon on average. While that’s about 20 cents higher than this time last year, drivers are paying the second-lowest spring prices since 2009.
“The steady lower prices have made it much easier for families to budget trips,” Ms. Garcia said. “When you’re not paying $4 a gallon for gas, you have more money to spend on vacation.”
AAA offers a Gas Cost Calculator on its gasprices.aaa.com website, which allows travelers to calculate how much they will spend on gas for their road trip based on their make and model of car as well as real-time gas price averages in each region they will travel.
The Auto Club recommends that summer air travelers allow extra time both to arrive at the airport and get through security lines, particularly if they are flying out of Los Angeles International Airport. LAX moved 15 airlines to different terminals in mid-May, which may cause additional traffic congestion throughout the summer.
Memorial Day travel projections were based on research conducted for AAA by IHS Global Insight.