Holiday travelers this year may have the option of packing light — both in the suitcase and in the wallet.
AAA is predicting that the average cost of gasoline nationwide is on track to dip below $2 a gallon by Christmas. It’s already headed that way in the South, where the average price is below $2 in most states, and multiple Midwestern and Great Plains states saved more than a dime per gallon in just the last week. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, prices are expected to be the lowest they’ve been since 2008.
‘Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway,’ AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said this week.
According to AAA, the price drop is helping American consumers save $265 million a day from a year ago.
The savings are even larger from 2012 and 2013, when gasoline remained well above $3 a gallon across the U.S. and failed to provide drivers with much of the savings that often come from November price decreases. In 2014, the cost of gas plunged during the second half of the year. But it’s still substantially cheaper now than when it was last November. Gasoline hasn’t been less than $2 a gallon at Christmas since 2009, and this year is shaping up to be a prime opportunity to save on travel during the holiday season.
How to save you on your holiday travel
Most Americans who travel during Thanksgiving and Christmas do so by car, anyway. A whopping 91% of ‘long-distance’ holiday travel is by personal vehicle, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation study performed in 2001. Only 5% to 6% is done by air. However, according to AAA, that figure will be closer to 8.5% this Thanksgiving, accounting for 3.6 million of the 42 million expected to travel. Such an increase is reflected on a wider scale — general air travel continues to increase yearly, and both the DOT and PricewaterhouseCoopers predict demand to take off in the next 20 years. With this surge in flying and competition in the airline marketplace remaining low, airfare remains expensive for many consumers.
Compared to the drop in fuel prices for road travelers, this holiday season is an opportune time to drive.