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High number of Californians to travel on July 4th holiday, study says

June 26, 2012|By Hugo Martin
(Lori Shepler/Los Angeles…)

Californians are expected to travel in near-record numbers over the July 4th holiday, with most vacationers planning road trips to take advantage of plummeting gasoline prices, according to a forecast by the Auto Club of Southern California.

The annual forecast predicts 4.88 million Californians will travel over next week's Independence Day holiday, a 5.2% increase over last year. The total number of travelers predicted by the Auto Club comes up just short of the record number of 4.89 million Californians who left town for July 4th in 2003.

Nationally, holiday travel is expected to rise by 4.9%, to 42.47 million from last year’s total of 40.29 million vacationers.

The study also predicted that about 3 million Southern Californians plan to travel for the holiday, also a 5.2% increase and also just short of the record of 3.04 million vacationers who traveled in 2003.

But it is possible that Californians will ultimately break the holiday travel record because the study was based on a survey taken between May 16 and May 20. Since then, the average price of a gallon of gasoline around Los Angeles has dropped 48 cents.

"Prices are going down like a rock and that is great news for travelers," said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Auto Club.

Among Southern Californians who plan to travel, 78% will drive to their holiday destination, a 4% increase from last year, according to the Auto Club. An additional 359,000 travelers are expected to fly to their destination, a 9.8% increase from 2011.

“With the 4th of July holiday falling in the middle of the week this year, we are finding that more travelers are taking longer trips than they would on a typical three-day holiday weekend period, which is partly why air travel is up this year,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

The last time July 4th fell on a Wednesday was in 2007, when 4.88 million Californians and 3.03 million Southern Californians traveled for the holiday.

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