Holiday car travel expected to rise despite higher gas prices
by Sarah Merchlewitz
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Riverside and San Bernardino counties Monday was $3.39, 90 cents more than a year ago.
"Even though there might be higher gas prices, on Thanksgiving you spend time with family and close friends," said Automobile Club spokeswoman Elaine Beno.
About 200,000 people are also expected to travel through LA/Ontario International Airport from the Friday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after, up 5 percent from this time last year, said airport spokeswoman Maria Tesoro-Fermin.
Margaret Heggins Leary flew with her foster daughter to Arizona so her foster daughter could visit her father. Heggins Leary said she would drop the girl off but would not be visiting family in Texas as she hoped because gas is too pricey.
Would she consider driving to see family at Christmas?
"Only if gas prices drop," Heggins Leary said.
Jose Gonzalez said he and his family will spend Thanksgiving at home too, because they want to enjoy the house they recently purchased.
He usually visits family in San Jose around the holidays, but the hundreds of dollars he estimates the trip would cost has given him pause.
"It makes you think, 'Should I buy another toy for my children or should I buy gas?,' " Gonzalez said.
Those who are visiting the Inland Empire can visit the California Welcome Center San Bernardino, where an increase in visitors has prompted center officials to keep it open during the holiday weekend, said Mary Casanova-Poland, the center's director of regional tourism, sales and marketing.
"No matter if the costs are high, I think people are going to be getting together with their family in any case," Casanova-Poland said.
Palm Desert travel agent Rick Friedman said cruises have become quite popular for the holidays, especially for people with children.
"At this time of year, cruises are screaming with children," Friedman said.