AAA: Expect Thanksgiving travel in San Diego to reach pre-pandemic levels

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SAN DIEGO – Thanksgiving travel is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, a new survey by AAA shows.

Nationwide, more than 53 million people are expected to travel to feast with friends and family. AAA expects this Thanksgiving to be the second busiest in Southern California, just 3% less than the all-time record of 4.5 million local travelers in 2019.

This year, 4.4 million Southern Californians will take trips at least 50 miles for the Thanksgiving holiday and they’ll be paying the highest ever gas prices for this time of year, averaging more than $4.50 a gallon.

“This comeback in travel really is remarkable especially given the fact that some modes of transportation like cruises only restarted recently,” said Doug Shupe, spokesman for AAA Southern California.

Instead of traveling, Shatia Moore plans to celebrate with her family in Lemon Grove.

“I cook every year for my family and I have a big family gathering at my house so this year we decided to invite all my cousins and everyone over to my house to make it a bigger Thanksgiving,” Moore said.

AAA also predicts  San Diego will be the top destination for Southern Californians.

 “What that means is whether you are planning a staycation for Thanksgiving, you can expect the freeways and roadways around San Diego County will be extra busy,” Shupe said.

Others like Chula Vista resident Anthony Lopez are preparing for a long drive to see family.

“I’m going up to Seattle for Thanksgiving for my sister,” Lopez said. “She moved up there recently and I just became an uncle so I’m going to see my baby niece.”

With all this pent-up demand, travel experts say leave early and book upcoming trips soon.

“We’re anticipating that all of 2022 is going to be extremely busy and that’s why the best advice for travel in the new year is book now, book right away because there are some deals that are out there right now that will not last long,” Shupe said.

Depending on the destination, he says people should plan to bring a mask and COVID-19 vaccination card.

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