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West Coast Travelers Spending $1K on Holiday Trips

AAA projects increased spending on end-of-year travel, plus more travelers heading farther away from home.

More Southern Californians are expected to leave home this holiday season—and spend more than $1,000 on the getaway—than last year, thanks to a merrier economy, according to The Automobile Club of Southern California.

"As a result of the improving economy, AAA is projecting an increase in travelers' budgets as well as in the number of travelers," said Filomena Andre, AAA's vice president for travel products and services, in a news release.

Overall, 11.7 million Californians are expected to go more than 50 miles away from home for the holidays this year, including 7.3 million from Southern California. That's a 1.8 percent increase over 2011 for both traveling groups.

And where are your fellow Southern Californians going?

The top destination, perhaps no surprise, is Las Vegas, followed by San Francisco, San Diego, the Grand Canyon and the Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey), according to a poll of AAA travel agents.

The roads and airports are likely to be packed with 88 percent of travelers expected to drive, and more than 590,000 locals taking to the skies—up 4.4 percent over last year.

Local gas prices have been dropping in recent months, saving drivers a bit of cash, but overall holiday travel spending is projected to increase 6 percent over 2011 to top $1,000 per household.

Statewide Holiday Projections, By the Numbers (and % Change from 2011)

  • Taking Trips: 11.7 million (+1.8 percent)
  • Driving: 10.4 million (+1.4 percent)
  • Flying: 950,000 (+4.4 percent)
  • Bus, Train, Ship, RV or Other: 400,000 (+1.4 percent)

Are you planning to spend more on your holiday travel this year? Why?

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