Auto Club: SoCal Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Second- Busiest On Record, Almost To Pre-Pandemic Levels

Travel is continuing to rebound rapidly from the pandemic. The Automobile Club of Southern California projects that 4.4 million Southern Californians will take trips of at least 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year – a 16 percent increase from last year’s holiday. For Southern California, this will be the second-busiest Thanksgiving travel volume on record and just 3% less than the all-time record of 4.5 million local Thanksgiving travelers in 2019.

Nationwide, AAA is projecting this Thanksgiving to be the third-busiest on record, with 53.4 million travelers expected compared to 56 million in 2019 and 53.7 million in 2018.

Air travel and other modes of transportation such as cruises, buses and trains are seeing the sharpest increase in volume compared to last year, as more people feel comfortable using those forms of transportation with increased vaccinations.

“This is a remarkable comeback for travel, especially considering that cruises and some other modes of transportation have only recently restarted,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “To help meet consumer demand, AAA is hiring travel advisors. 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.”

Top Destinations

Nationally, AAA expects Anaheim to be the second-most popular destination for Thanksgiving travelers, with Orlando the most popular. According to a survey of Auto Club travel advisors, the top five destinations for Southern Californians are:

  1. San Diego
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Yosemite
  5. Santa Barbara/Central Coast

Gas Prices

Southern California travelers will be paying the highest gas prices ever for this time of year when they fill up for their holiday trips. With average gas prices above $4.50 a gallon in most local areas, a typical 15-gallon tank fill-up could cost drivers $70 or more. To find the cheapest gas prices closest to your location, use the AAA Mobile app, and visit to find the average gas prices at your destination or calculate the estimated gas cost for your Thanksgiving trip.


Image Sources

  • Car covered in leaves: Auto Club