SOURCE: Automobile Club of Southern California

May 19, 2008 03:30 ET

Memorial Day Travel Takes Slight Dip, Says Auto Club

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 19, 2008) - Memorial Day travel in Southern California is expected to decline slightly compared to 2007, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. About 2.9 million Southland residents are projected to take trips this weekend -- a decline of one-tenth of one percent compared to last year.

About 73 percent of Southern California travelers, or 2.12 million people, are expected to drive to their holiday destinations, which is a decline of one-tenth of one percent over last year. More than 440,000 will take plane trips -- a decline of two-tenths of one percent compared to Memorial Day 2007.

Statewide, 4.66 million people are expected to take Memorial Day trips -- also a decline of one-tenth of one percent. Of those travelers, 3.4 million are expected to drive and 710,000 are expected to fly.

Nationally, 37.9 million Americans are expected to travel to holiday destinations of 50 miles or more this weekend, which is a decrease of nine-tenths of one percent from last year.

"There is no doubt that this year's record gas prices are affecting travelers' budgets and destination choices," said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. "There is a slight drop-off in travel numbers, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Travel agents tell us that this year's holiday vacationers are more expense-conscious when planning trips."

More than two-thirds of Californians traveling this holiday will have at least three people in their travel party. Just over half of California travelers will take trips of 250 miles or less. And 54 percent of the state's travelers plan to spend a total of $600 or less on their Memorial Day getaways.

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

   1)   San Diego
   2)   Las Vegas
   3)   Grand Canyon and other national parks
   4)   Central California Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
   5)   Mexico (cruises, flights and drive trips)

The Auto Club has the following recommendations for travelers looking to save money on their Memorial Day getaways:

--  If taking a drive trip, try not to leave or return during heavy
    traffic, which reduces fuel economy.
    
--  Budget your trip ahead of time. To estimate your fuel costs, use AAA's
    Fuel Cost Calculator, at www.fuelcostcalculator.com, which will calculate
    gas costs based on your vehicle make and model as well as real-time
    regional gas price averages.
    
--  Take advantage of free breakfasts or snacks that may be offered at
    your lodging.
    
--  Buy snacks and drinks at a grocery store and store them in a cooler
    instead of buying them along the way.
    
--  Plan your route and stops ahead of time to take advantage of buying
    gas in cities where it will be less expensive. Generally speaking, larger
    metropolitan areas will have lower gas prices.
    
--  Always ask whether a restaurant or lodging has an Auto Club discount.
    

Contact Information

  • CONTACT:
    Marie Montgomery
    Jeffrey Spring
    (714) 885-2333