Memorial Day

Memorial Day Road Trips This Year Expected to Increase Significantly as Virus Trends Look More Optimistic

AAA predicts an estimated 34 million people nationwide will be traveling by car for the long weekend

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As the weather gets warmer and COVID-19 cases gradually decrease in contrast to an increase in vaccinations, more Americans will be hitting the road this weekend for Memorial Day – a positive trend that signals things are on track for the return to normalcy.

Nearly 65% more of Southern California residents are expected to take a road trip beginning Thursday through Sunday compared to last year when freeways were virtually empty. Last year’s Memorial Day travel paled in comparison to previous years with record low numbers as the pandemic put a hold on many vacation plans.

This year, however, travel for the long weekend is expected to make a comeback with an estimated 34 million people traveling by car for the holiday, according to a forecast by AAA. In Southern California alone, 2.5 million people are expected to travel to their destinations by car.

“So this is a healthy percentage increase; it’s about 60% more people are going to travel,” said Andrew Gross, a AAA spokesperson. “Now, that’s still far less than travel pre-pandemic. We’re still about 13% lower than say, 2019, but this is a sign of growing confidence on behalf of the American traveler.”

San Diego is geared up and ready for the Memorial Day weekend crowds. NBC 7’s Nicole Gomez speaks with beachgoers and shares what authorities are doing to keep things safe.

AAA said the top five road trip destinations in the country are:

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Orlando, FL
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Denver, CO
  • Nashville, TN

Meanwhile, for Southern Californians, their top five road trip destinations are:

  • Zion National Park in Utah
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
  • San Diego, CA
  • Yosemite National Park in California
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The travels come as gas prices increase to an average of $4.16 per gallon in San Diego.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”

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