Marking a return to pre-pandemic travel numbers, the Automobile Club of Southern California predicted today that 3.3 million Southern California residents will be traveling over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
That figure is 7.7% higher than last year, and roughly a one-half percentage point increase from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products, said in a statement. “Despite higher ticket prices than last year, demand for flights is skyrocketing, and this Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.”
According to the Auto Club, 2.8 million Southern Californians are expected to travel via automobile to their destination, while 358,000 will fly and 230,000 will travel by other means, such as bus, train or cruise ship.
Nationally, the Auto Club predicted that 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday weekend, up 7% from last year but 1% below the number from 2019.
The Auto Club defines the holiday travel period as beginning Thursday, May 25, and continuing through Memorial Day, May 29.
The transportation data-analysis service INRIX predicts that Friday, May 26, will be the busiest day on the roads nationally. People traveling by car were advised to leave either early in the morning or after 6 p.m.
Locally, the peak congestion over the long weekend is anticipated to occur Sunday afternoon on the Golden State (5) Freeway between Los Angeles and San Diego, with an estimated travel time of three hours and 24 minutes—47% longer than usual.
For Southern Californians, the top destinations for travelers are expected to be Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barbara, the Grand Canyon and Palm Springs.