With only one week to go before Christmas, Californians are expected to stretch their budgets and take to the roads, rails, and skies to celebrate with family and friends, according to the latest travel survey from AAA Northern California.
AAA predicts more than 11.7 million Californians are expected to travel, during this end of the year holiday season, representing an overall increase of 0.5 percent compared to 2012.
“This year’s increase in travel is due in part to the longer holiday travel period that covers two weekends,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “This enables families to travel for a longer period of time to destinations that are further away.”
AAA estimates more than 10.4 million Californians traveling during Christmas and New Year’s will choose to drive to their holiday destinations, representing a 1.1 percent increase compared to last year. The air travel industry will experience a decrease this year as slightly more than 900,000 Californians expected to fly, a drop of -2.6 percent compared to 2012 . Approximately 365,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as boats or trains. This represents a -7.8 percent decrease compared to last year.
Nationally, AAA projects 94 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday festivities. That’s a 0.6 percent increase compared to last year.
Family travel constitutes 13 percent of total travelers during the year-end holidays. An average West Coast family of four will save money by staying with friends and family, with overall expenditures of $812. An average West Coast road trip will consist of approximately 750 miles.
AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase by 1 percent, costing an average $138 per night, while AAA Two Diamond lodgings are expected to pay an average of $102, a slight decrease from last year. Weekend car rental rates will average $63 per rental, compared to $55 from last year.
Californians who take to the skies during this holiday season will pay an average price of $199 per round trip ticket for the top U.S. air routes. This represents a decrease of -1.4 percent from last year.
Tips for Driving Safely on Icy Roads
- Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
- Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
If Your Rear Wheels Skid
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
- If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to control your vehicle.
- If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
- If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.
If Your Front Wheels Skid
- Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If You Get Stuck
- Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
- Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
- Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
- Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
- Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
- Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
Projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.