Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

More than 2.7 million Southern Californians and around 4.4 million residents from throughout the state will take a long getaway this Memorial Day weekend — a 4.6 percent increase over last year and the largest overall number of Memorial Day holiday travelers from the Golden State since 2005, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club defines a holiday trip as one at least 50 miles away from home. The Memorial Day holiday travel period runs from Thursday to Monday.  This year, 2.76 million Southern Californians and 4.44 million statewide are expected to take a long weekend getaway, according to an Auto Club statement.

The figures, 4.6 percent higher than in 2014, represent the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since the all-time record — set in 2005 — of 3.2 million in the Southland and 5.18 million statewide. They also represent the biggest one-year jump in Memorial Day holiday travel since 2010.

Among Southern Californians, 2.31 million — about 83 percent of all travelers — are expected to travel by car, which is a 5.6 percent increase over last year, the statement said. Another 260,000 local residents are expected to go by plane, which is a 2.6 percent increase over 2014. And about 183,000 local travelers will take a recreational vehicle, cruise, bus or train trip this weekend — a 3.4 percent decrease from last year.

Statewide, about 83 percent of the projected 4.44 million travelers, or 3.73 million, are expected to go by car, a 5.6 percent increase over 2014. About 419,000 statewide are projected to fly, a 2.6 percent increase from 2014, and 294,000 will go by other means, which is a 3.4 percent decrease from 2014.

“This holiday weekend is a promising start to the summer travel season, and it shows that Southern Californians are placing a high value on travel and feel confident that they can spend money on it,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. “The currency situation is particularly favorable for Americans wanting to visit Europe, although the dollar has been losing some ground against the Euro recently.”

Nationally, travel is expected to increase by 4.7 percent compared to last year’s Memorial Day holiday, with 37.2 million travelers expected, compared to 35.5 million in 2014. Car travel is expected to rise by 5.3 percent to 33 million, while air travel is expected to rise 2.5 percent this year to 2.6 million. “Other” travel will drop 3.6 percent to 1.6 million.

Because of recent price spikes, most Southern California travelers will be paying near or above $4 a gallon to fill up, although prices are likely to be slightly lower than last year, according to the Auto Club

The Auto Club said a survey of AAA travel agent indicated top Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers are, in this order, San Diego, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Mexico (cruises, flights and drive trips) and Las Vegas.

—City News Service

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