Pandemic-weary Angelenos will be hitting the roads and airways in large numbers this Thanksgiving, with about 4.4 million Southern California residents expected to travel for the holiday, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Auto Club.
The anticipated number of holiday travelers marks a 16% jump from last year. According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, this year will be the second-busiest Thanksgiving travel volume on record for the region, just 3% below the 4.5 million people who traveled for Thanksgiving in 2019.
"This is a remarkable comeback for travel, especially considering that cruises and some other modes of transportation have only recently restarted," Filomena Andre, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services, said in a statement. "To help meet consumer demand, AAA is hiring travel advisers. We are also strongly recommending that people not wait to book trips in 2022 because there are deals and availability that are being offered now that will go fast."
According to the Auto Club, the top five destinations for Southern California Thanksgiving travelers will be San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Santa Barbara/Central Coast.
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Nationally, Anaheim is expected to be the second-most popular holiday destination for travelers, thanks to Disneyland. Anaheim will be second only to another Disney hub -- Orlando, Florida.
Nationwide, the Auto Club is predicting this Thanksgiving will be the third busiest on record, with 53.4 million travelers, trailing only behind the 56 million from 2019 and 53.7 million in 2018.
Of the 4.4 million anticipated Southern California travelers, 3.8 million are expected to travel by car, while 494,000 will travel by air, and 79,000 will use some other means, such as a bus or cruise ship.
The Auto Club noted that the increase in travel will come at a time when Southern California residents are paying the highest gas prices ever on the Thanksgiving holiday, with an average price of about $4.50 per gallon.
According to the Auto Club, analysts from the transportation firm INRIX have determined that the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, Nov. 24, will be the busiest times for Southland freeways. The stretch of the Golden State (5) Freeway between Colorado Street and Florence Avenue is predicted to see the heaviest congestion, with traffic volume at 385% above normal levels.