The Automobile Club of Southern California estimates that 9.5 million locals will take to the roads and skies this Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, setting a record amount of travel-related departures from the region.
According to Auto Club, traveler numbers from Southern California are expected to rise by 3% over the same period in the previous year and by 2% over the level during the previous year’s end holiday season prior to the pandemic, which was in 2019.
With 115.2 million scheduled to travel nationwide over the holidays, it will be the second busiest ever—only surpassed by 119.3 million in 2019.
Travelers at LAX claim it’s already starting to become packed, despite the Auto Club stating that the busy holiday travel season runs from December 23 through January 1.
“A little bit more than I thought there would be this early on, but we always expect busy,” a woman said on Monday to Eyewitness News.
However, the bustling areas won’t only be airports.
8.3 million travelers from Southern California are anticipated to drive, compared to 829,000 who are anticipated to fly. Some will use transportation like buses, trains, or cruise ships.
Vice President for travel products and services at the Auto Club Jena Miller said in a statement, “We are expecting roads, airports, and cruise ports to be very busy this month with a new record for year-end travel among Southern Californians.” “Consumer demand for leisure travel has surged this year, and it appears that the momentum is set to carry on into 2024.”
Travelers from Southern California are anticipated to flock to Las Vegas, San Diego, the Central Coast, Palm Springs/Coachella Valley, and the Grand Canyon as their top travel destinations.
It will be difficult for those who choose to drive to locate a path that isn’t clogged, while certain sections of the road may be the worst.
The Auto Club projected that, on the evening of December 27, the southbound 5 Freeway between Bakersfield and Los Angeles will be the busiest section of the freeway during the travel period, citing studies by the transportation research firm INRIX.
Dec. 23 is predicted to be a busy travel day as well, with traffic expected to be heavy on the 15 Freeway heading north between San Diego and Interstate 10.
To avoid the worst of the gridlock, the Auto Club advised drivers to get on the road before lunch or after 7 p.m.
The 10-day travel window, according to AAA, will probably be the busiest at American airports ever. However, seasoned travelers had some advice: “Be patient because there’s no short cuts,”