Millions of Southern Californians plan to travel for Thanksgiving
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Planes trains automobiles. If predictions are correct, we're ready to use just about anything to finally get, to see friends and family. This Thanksgiving, the analysts at the automobile club of Southern California say this Thanksgiving will be the second busiest on record in our area. Just 3% lower than the all-time high of 2019. But this year along with traffic jams and airport crowds travelers will have to remember pandemic safety guidelines, such as masks and vaccination records. Joining me is Doug Shupe corporate communications and programs manager for the auto club of Southern California. Doug. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:40)
Hi Maureen. Thank you so much for having me on today.
Speaker 1: (00:42)
Triple a says, San Diego is the top destination for travelers in our region where else our Southern California is headed this Thanksgiving.
Speaker 2: (00:52)
San Diego is always one of the very most popular spots for Southern Californians, but according to a survey of our auto club travel advisors, the number two destination is Los Vegas followed by the grand canyon. Yosemite national park comes in at number four and the Santa Barbara central coast area rounds out the top five. Now that's for Southern Californians. Nationally. AAA expects that Anaheim is going to be the second most popular destination. This Thanksgiving for travelers across the country. The number one destination will be Orlando, not a big surprise. The Disney parks play a big role in that.
Speaker 1: (01:33)
Now how many Southern Californians do you predict will be traveling?
Speaker 2: (01:37)
Well, we're expecting 4.4 million people here in Southern California. We'll take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home during the five-day Thanksgiving period, Wednesday through Sunday. Now the vast majority of them will go by automobile, uh, 3.8 million people traveling by car or truck about 494,000 will fly somewhere in about 79,000. We'll take another mode of transportation, like a train, a bus, or even a cruise of course, cruises just recently started up again.
Speaker 1: (02:13)
Can you tell us in it percentage wise, how much that's up from last year?
Speaker 2: (02:18)
Yeah, the overall travel volume is 16% higher here in Southern California from, uh, last year. And it's down just 3% from 2019 before the pandemic began, you know, for Southern California, this will be the second busiest Thanksgiving travel volume on record. And just below the all time record of Thanksgiving travelers, which we saw in 2019 pre pandemic.
Speaker 1: (02:48)
Now, for people who are traveling by automobile gas could be a real expense. Can you tell us about that situation?
Speaker 2: (02:56)
Yeah. Currently in the San Diego, uh, drivers are paying on average a 4 65 for a gallon of regular unleaded. That is about a dollar 50 more per gallon, uh, than this time last year, to put that into perspective, you know, someone driving the typical midsize sedan with a 14 gallon sized fuel tank paying a dollar 50 more per gallon means you're paying more than $21, uh, to fill up that tank of gas today than last year at this time. However, we don't expect that these higher gas prices will deter most people from traveling. We expect people are going to be traveling in very large numbers, taking road trips in very large numbers to reconnect with their loved ones this Thanksgiving.
Speaker 1: (03:44)
Yeah. What about the prices on air travel?
Speaker 2: (03:47)
Yeah. Well, air travel actually is, uh, you know, even with the boost that we are seeing in the number of passengers who are going to be boarding planes, this Thanksgiving AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is actually a little more than 27%, less than last year. However, you know, we know that 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. And so our advice is if you're planning to travel, you know, 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, there has been so much pent up demand and auto club travel advisors are hearing from a lot of people who are ready to get out there again, you know, when we saw those vaccinations happen, as vaccinations increased the desire, consumer desire to travel increased as well.
Speaker 1: (04:48)
Talk about vaccinations and actually the pandemic safety precautions that are still in effect this year is different for traveling because of them. And I want to know what do travelers need to take with them to satisfy those precautions?
Speaker 2: (05:03)
Well, you're right morning, we are living in a different time and traveling in a different time. And so the auto club does remind that all travelers still follow CDC recommendations for safe travel. Also bring plenty of face masks and remember they are required to be worn on any form of public transportation. And we also remind you that they could be required for some indoor areas as well. Now, for those who are taking a road trip, you can always use triple A's COVID-19 travel restrictions map, really a great resource to find out what the restrictions are, not only at your destination, but also along your route.
Speaker 1: (05:45)
AAA also says it's a good idea for some travelers at least to take along their vaccination cards, where might someone need to show a vaccination
Speaker 2: (05:55)
You're right. You never know. It depends on what you're doing and what kind of events, but some entertainment venues may require vaccination cards. So it's a good idea to bring that vaccination card. I actually have the actual printed vaccination card. Of course, some locations will accept the mobile vaccination cards that you have in your phone, but you just don't know. So the best bet is to have that printed vaccination card, just like you travel with your passport and not leave home without it. You may want to take your vaccination card as well. Okay.
Speaker 1: (06:27)
Hard travelers may also encounter the kind of gridlock they haven't seen for a while. When will roads be at their worst for Thanksgiving travel?
Speaker 2: (06:36)
Uh, well we know Wednesday is going to be a very busy day on Southern California freeways. We're going to see those candy cane lights that we typically see, you know, on, on television with the red and white lights. It's going to be pretty packed throughout the day on Wednesday, but it also could pick up on late Tuesday afternoon as well. Our best advice is if you can try to leave as early in the day as possible, because what you want to do is avoid that afternoon early evening commute time when commuters are heading home from work mixing with the travelers who are trying to get out of town or into town.
Speaker 1: (07:15)
Good advice. I've been speaking with Doug Shupe auto club of Southern California, corporate communications and programs manager, and happy Thanksgiving. Doug,
Speaker 2: (07:24)
Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Maureen. Thank you.
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.
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.