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Low gas prices expected to fuel record SoCal holiday travel

Cheaper gas prices are one of the factors fueling record-level SoCal holiday travel, according to the AAA.
Cheaper gas prices are one of the factors fueling record-level SoCal holiday travel, according to the AAA.
Gregory Bull/AP

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At the Garo gas station in Pasadena, Wesley Jackson had never been so happy filling up his tank.

"It’s $2.50, it’s fantastic!" Jackson said. "Can’t you tell I’m smiling?"

Gas prices are down nationwide, thanks to a plunge in global oil prices. That's helping to boost regional travel to record levels this holiday season, according to AAA, along with "greater household net worth, increased disposable income and a lower unemployment rate."

More than 7.5 million southern Californians are expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4, up more than 3 percent over 2013, projects the Automobile Club.

"Everyone I know is very excited," Jackson said. "The fact that gas is so cheap, they’re far less opposed to getting into a car and making a couple hundred miles trip."

According to the website gasbuddy.com, prices at the Garo station in Pasadena are some of the lowest in the area. But gas prices are down significantly statewide. The current average in California is about $2.70, compared to about $3.60 a year ago, according to AAA.

Another customer, Mary Brown of Pasadena said she would make the 75-mile trip to visit her daughter in Victorville, no matter what she had to pay at the tank. But the lower gas prices have her considering making a side trip from Victorville.

"I'll have more gas left," Brown said. "I'll go to Las Vegas."