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KPBS Midday Edition

Millions of Southern Californians plan to travel for Thanksgiving

Southwest Airlines planes sit at the gate at San Diego International Airport on June 3, 2021.
Roland Lizarondo
Southwest Airlines planes sit at the gate at San Diego International Airport on June 3, 2021.

As we enter the holiday season, airports and roads are predicted to be packed again as people head out to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. Analysts at the Automobile Club of Southern California say this Thanksgiving will be the second busiest Thanksgiving on record for our area, just 3% lower than the all-time high in 2019.

AAA projects that 4.4 million Southern Californians will take trips during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year, which is a 16% increase from last year’s holiday. Experts say along with traffic jams and airport crowds, travelers also have to consider pandemic safety guidelines such as masks and vaccination records.

KPBS Midday Edition spoke with Doug Shupe, Corporate Communications and Programs Manager for the Auto Club of Southern California, about what travelers can expect this holiday season.

"We know the pricing that is available right now and the availability, not just for airfare, but for cruises, for accommodations, that is going to go very fast," Shupe said. "So, our advice is if you're planning to travel toward the end of the year for the holidays or even any time next year go ahead and look at booking now. Book early, because the availability and the pricing will not last."

Shupe said if you are traveling by car, the day before Thanksgiving is predicted to be the busiest on Southern California freeways. He advises travelers to try to leave as early as possible in the day, to avoid traffic from local commuters going to and from work.

Millions of Southern Californians plan to travel for Thanksgiving
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

Shupe also said AAA reminds all travelers to follow CDC recommendations for safe travel. He said AAA's COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map can be used as a resource to learn about restrictions at your destination and along your travel route.