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Home / Central Coast

Memorial Day travel crush begins; 3.1M in SoCal expected to take trips

Parking structures at Los Angeles International Airport were already filling up Wednesday ahead of Memorial Day weekend, with millions of Southland residents expected to hit the roads or airways for weekend getaways.

With pandemic-weary residents apparently unhampered by soaring gas prices, the Automobile Club of Southern California predicted that 3.1 million SoCal residents will be traveling for the Memorial Day weekend, the vast majority of them — 2.6 million — by car.

Roughly 320,000 local residents are expected to travel by air to reach their destinations, according to the Auto Club.

“With pandemic restrictions lifting and modes of travel such as air and cruises continuing to rebound, Auto Club travel advisers are working hard to rebook trips that were delayed over the last two years and plan new adventures for friends and families,” Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products and services, said in a statement. “The Auto Club strongly recommends people who are planning big trips this summer to use a trusted travel adviser and consider travel insurance, which can both save you time and money if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”

At LAX, airport officials said Wednesday parking structures are already reaching capacity, with some already filled, particularly those closest to the Tom Bradley International Terminal and terminals 3, 4 and 5.

LAX officials urged people planning to travel to consider reserving parking spots in advance at parking.flylax.com.

According to the Auto Club, this year will be the fourth-busiest Memorial Day travel weekend on record, behind 2005, 2018 and 2019. The overall estimated number of people traveling this weekend is expected to be about 8% behind the number from the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Nationally, the Auto Club estimates that 39.2 million people will be traveling for the weekend.

For Southern California residents, the top destinations for people traveling over the weekend are expected to be Mexico, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park, San Diego and Santa Barbara/Central Coast. The top destination for people traveling by air will be Hawaii, according to the Auto Club.

Anaheim is expected to be the fifth-most popular destination for travelers nationally.

According to the Auto Club, Friday is expected to be the most congested travel day on local freeways, with most likely to have double their normal traffic volume on Friday afternoon. Freeways are also expected to be more congested than usual Thursday afternoon and evening, Auto Club officials said.

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