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Expect ‘Significant’ Holiday Weekend Travel Increase

Oakland, CA — Travel-wise for Californians this year’s Memorial Day holiday is likely to be the biggest in a decade, forecasters say.

During the official travel weekend, which runs Friday through Monday evening, “In California, we’re seeing a 4.6 percent increase in holiday travel…projecting over 4.4 million Californians to be traveling,” states AAA spokesperson Cynthia Harris.

“It’s a good amount of time and enough time for a family of four or five to get in the car, hit the road and enjoy a couple of nights out of town going down the coast…up to the mountains…the Lake Tahoe Region, maybe even to Utah or Las Vegas,” Harris says. Further explaining, she continues, “We do see those as being very popular vacation destinations at this time of the year. This is really THE official beginning to summer travel…this triggers the rest of the year and usually sets the tone for the rest of the travel season.”

Out of the 4.4 million Californians projected to travel 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, 3.7 million will be driving. “That is significant. That is a 6.5 percent increase from last year, and I have to say that Memorial Day Weekend 2015 is the highest level of travel that we’ve had in a decade,” Harris shares. “Basically, we have not had this kind of travel volume since…2005. So, this is pretty significant.” Air travel numbers are trending up, too; 3.6 percent over last year with over 400,000 Californians predicted to be flying over the holiday weekend.

The travel increases, according to Harris, directly relate to a feeling of a stronger economy and a boost in consumer confidence. “We’ve seen that grow over the past several years, but this year…we’ve seen that people are definitely more apt to travel and they have more disposable income.”

Lower gas prices obviously figure in, as well. Last year, at this time, Californians were paying $4.14, on average, per gallon of unleaded gas. Even with this past month’s 40 to 50-cent jump at the pump, the current state-wide average cost is $3.79 per gallon. Fueling that news, Harris says the experts are indicating that gas prices will not exceed what we were paying a year ago.  In Sonora, the average price for a gallon of gas in $3.42. In San Andreas, the lowest price is $3.33. To find out local prices at time go to the myMotherlode.com home page and type in the keyword: gas or click here.

Leisure travel lodging prices are projected to be up about seven percent this season over a year ago, according to Harris. Pricing for a AAA Three Diamond room is currently averaging about $182 per night, according to her figures. She attributes the tourist season, current supply and demand and added operating costs as chief factors.

The California travel numbers nearly mirror national figures for the holiday weekend, during which the number of travelers is also expected to hit a ten-year high. Nationwide, AAA expects 37.2 million people to travel, a 4.7 percent increase over last year. Of those, more than 88 percent nationwide will go by car, which is up 5.3 percent over the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend holiday.