More than 2.6 million Southern Californians will travel at least 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend, nearly 2 percent more than last year and the largest number since an all-time record of 3.2 million was set in 2005, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Of the expected 2.66 million Southern California holiday travelers, 2.23 million – about 83 percent – will travel by car, 1.4 percent more than last year, the AAA said in a statement.
Another 249,000 residents are expected to fly, 2.4 percent more than in 2013, and about 183,000 will take a trip in a recreational vehicle, cruise ship, bus or train this weekend, a 6.5 percent increase from last year.
“Our AAA Travel Agency continues to see an increased interest in alternative travel such as package tours, cruises and rail trips,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “Because of their busy lives, our members are also more willing than in the past to take a three-day weekend trip or cruise beyond typical driving-distance destinations, which is why we are seeing an increase in tours and cruises this holiday.”
The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home. The number of Southern Californians expected to embark on such trips this Memorial Day weekend is 1.8 percent higher than last year, the AAA said.
Their top destinations are, in this order, San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, and California’s Central Coast, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents.
Most Southern California travelers will be paying near or above $4 a gallon to fill up for their trips, or about 10 to 15 cents more per gallon than at this time last year.
Statewide, a total of 4.28 million are projected to take trips, an increase of 1.8 percent compared to the 4.21 million in 2013. Of the 4.28 million, about 83 percent, or 3.588 million, are expected to go by car, a 1.4 percent increase over 2013. About 401,000 statewide are projected to fly, compared to 391,000 in 2013, and 295,000 will go by other means, compared to 277,000 in 2013.
Nationally, travel is expected to increase by 1.5 percent compared to last year’s Memorial Day holiday, with 36 million travelers expected compared to 35.5 million in 2013, according to the AAA.
Car travel nationally is expected to rise to 31.8 million from 31.4 million last year, while air travel is expected to rise slightly to 2.56 million from 2.5 million in 2013, and other means of travel will rise to 1.7 million from 1.6 million last year, the AAA said.
In Los Angeles County, police departments say their members will be out in force this weekend in search of impaired drivers.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the Avoid the 100 DUI Task Force will set up DUI/driver’s license checkpoints throughout the county and conduct DUI saturation patrols, organizers said.
Officials noted that along with the warm weather forecast, which will attract people to beaches, the holiday weekend will also likely feature college and high school students celebrating graduation.
Stepped-up law enforcement activities will begin Friday and last through Monday.
Police officials urge motorists to avoid drinking and driving and to refuse to enter a vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking.