Long Beachers traveling this Memorial Day weekend may find the roads a little more crowded this year—that’s because the Automobile Club of Southern California expects 2.89 million Southern Californians to get out of town—the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since 2005, they announced this week.
Statewide, 4.67 million Californians are expected to go on a long weekend getaway, showing a 2.5 percent increase compared to 2015 travelers, according to a release from the auto club. The all-time record of Memorial Day travelers was set in 2005 at 3.2 million in Southern California and 5.18 million in the state.
Coupled with these statistics are the club’s reports that Southlanders will be able to take advantage of continued stable gas prices, with a statewide average of $2.808 and an average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area at $2.833 per gallon, the Auto Club reported Thursday.
“While Southern California still ranks as the most expensive region in the country for gasoline, prices here have remained relatively stable for more than a month,” Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring stated. “People who fill up during the Memorial Day weekend can expect to pay at least a dollar less per gallon than last year at this time.”
According to the Auto Club, about 85 percent of all Southern Californian travelers, or 2.4 million, will travel by car, a 2.7 percent increase from 2015. About 264,000 local residents are expected to go by plane—a 2.4 percent increase over last year. Another 176,000 local travelers will ride via recreational vehicle, cruise, bus or train trip this weekend, about the same number as last year, the release stated.
Throughout the state, about 85 percent of travelers, or 3.96 million, are predicted to go by car, a 2.7 percent increase from 2015 and a number representing about 85 percent of all travelers. Another 426,000 statewide are expected to fly, a 2.4 percent increase from last year, and 284,000 will use other modes of transportation, a 0.2 percent decrease from 2015, according to the release.
The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home and the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30.
According to a survey of AAA travel agents, the top five Memorial Day destinations for Southland travelers include:
1. Grand Canyon National Park
2. San Diego
3. San Francisco
4. Las Vegas
“The centennial of the National Park Service, new theme park attractions, cheaper gas prices and rising personal income are some of the reasons motivating an increase in travel this holiday,” stated Filomena Andre, the auto club’s vice president for travel. “Also, some domestic airfares for the weekend are less expensive than in 2015, fueling an increase in air travel.”
The Long Beach Airport is expecting about 33,000 passengers during the four-day weekend, including Friday through Monday, according to airport spokeswoman Stephanie Montuya-Morisky.
“With new Southwest routes and the convenience and great atmosphere of our airport, tourists have every reason to vacation in Long Beach this summer,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement released earlier this week.
Montuya-Morisky said the number is an estimate and the airport does not expect a huge surge in passenger traffic this weekend.
At Los Angeles International Airport, a record 849,000 travelers are expected to pass through this Memorial Day weekend, ahead of what's expected to be the facility's busiest summer ever, airport officials said.
The Auto Club has provided motorists traveling this weekend with the following tips:
- Travel during off-peak times to avoid congestion.
- Check your vehicle’s fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires, and if traveling to the mountains or a snowy area, bring along snow tires or chains.
- Pack plenty of fluids and activities for youngsters for long trips
- Plan your route ahead of time and bring a map in case you need to choose an alternate route. GPS services and smartphone apps may not always be operational or accurate. Motorists can call the California Highway Information Number at 800.427.7623 for interstate and state route lane closures and highway closures.
- Take care with children by properly using safety belts and car seats, and accompanying them into the restroom during travel breaks.
The Long Beach Airport has provided air travelers with the following tips:
- Long Beach Airport has an open-air concourse for outdoor dining so sunscreen is advised.
- Guide and service dogs, emotional support animals, and other traveling pets are welcome at the airport. A relief area is available north of the historic terminal.
- Self-parking is available in Lots A and B at a rate of $2 an hour with a maximum of $19 per day in Lot A, and $17 in Lot B.
- Electric vehicle charging is available in Lot B at a rate of $1 an hour for members and $2 an hour for guests.
- Drivers picking up passengers are encouraged to use the free Cell Phone Waiting Lot, located at 3402 North Lakewood Boulevard.
City News Service contributed to this report.