SOURCE: Automobile Club of Southern California

Automobile Club of Southern California

November 20, 2009 05:00 ET

Thanksgiving Travel Starts Climb Out of Last Year's Steep Drop, Says Auto Club

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - November 20, 2009) - After dropping sharply last year, the number of Thanksgiving travelers is expected to partially rebound over this holiday weekend, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club is expecting 2.19 million Southern Californians to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday -- an 8 percent increase from last year, but still 32 percent below the 3.19 million Southland residents who took Thanksgiving trips in 2007. A holiday trip is defined as one involving at least one overnight stay that is 50 miles or more away from home.

Among local travelers, 85 percent -- or 1.87 million people -- are expected to go by car, which is a 9 percent increase from last year but still 26 percent below the number of auto travelers in 2007. About 166,000 travelers are expected to go by air to their destinations -- a 1 percent drop from 2008 and a 60 percent drop from two years ago.

Statewide, 3.52 million Thanksgiving travelers are expected -- also an 8 percent increase from 2008 and a 32 percent decrease from 2007. Of the statewide travelers, three million are expected to drive, 267,000 are expected to fly and 251,000 will go by other means.

"We're continuing to see economic impact on travelers, particularly with the sharp drop in the number of plane trips," said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. "A recent poll we took of local residents revealed that of those who do plan to travel over the November and December holidays, more than one-third are planning to spend less on their trips."

The top five destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a poll of AAA Travel agents, are:

1) Las Vegas
2) San Francisco
3) Arizona
4) San Diego
5) Central Coast (from Santa Barbara to Monterey)

The top cruise destination is Mexico, while the top air destination for Thanksgiving travelers is Hawaii.

The Auto Club/AAA holiday travel projections study, which is conducted for AAA by IHS Global Insight, also found that nearly 70 percent of Thanksgiving travelers in the West were taking their trip to visit family or friends. Average spending on the Thanksgiving getaway for those in California and other western states is expected to be just over $800, and the average distance traveled on the trip for Western state residents is 664 miles round trip.

Gas prices will be nearly 30 percent higher for this year's holiday travelers than they were this time last year, with price averages in Southern California hovering in the $2.90 range.

Contact Information

    Jeffrey Spring/Marie Montgomery
    (714) 885-2333