(The Center Square) – The number of Californians traveling for Thanksgiving is expected to break records this year, with AAA forecasting an all-time high of more than 7.3 million California travelers.
AAA expects Thanksgiving travel in California to eclipse pre-pandemic levels, which rose to a previous record of over 7.2 million travelers in 2019. In 2021, more than 7.1 million Californians travelled for the holiday, according to data shared with The Center Square.
Nationally, AAA forecasts this Thanksgiving will be the third busiest on record, with 54.6 million travelers.
Despite high gas prices and inflation, AAA experts say holiday travel remains a priority for travelers.
“The main theme we are seeing is that people are making travel a priority in their budgets even with higher costs because they have missed so much precious time with family and friends over the past two years,” AAA spokesperson Marie Montgomery told The Center Square in an email.
Statewide, AAA forecasts over 6.3 million Californians will travel by car, over 882,000 will travel by air and another 176,000 will travel by other forms of transportation, like trains or buses.
An all-time record of 4.5 million Southern Californians are expected to travel for the holiday this year, a 2.5% increase over last year’s numbers, AAA forecasts.
Californians traveling for the holiday will still pay the highest average prices in the nation for gas, though prices have dropped in recent days. Statewide, the average price for a gallon of gas in California stood at $5.15 Wednesday, down from the average price of $5.40 a week ago, according to AAA.
While AAA projects most Californians are traveling by car, airports are also bracing for a busy Thanksgiving day and holiday season. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is projecting more than 200,000 travelers per day, with peak travel expected to reach 215,000 travelers on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Looking ahead, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) said it expects 5 million travelers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, representing 85% of the 2019 holiday season.