U.S. drivers have another reason to be thankful this month as travelers look to collectively save more than $1 billion this year during the Thanksgiving travel season, GasBuddy said on Tuesday.
The annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey from the fuel savings platform shows that 41% of its 6,359 respondents plan to take a road trip this year for the holiday travel period, which runs from Nov. 20 through Nov. 26, according to GasBuddy. That’s up 8% from the same time last year.
“Average gas prices have plummeted in all 50 states in the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, with $2.99 prices spreading like wildfire just in time for the start of the holiday season,” said Patrick, De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
The average price a gallon of regular unleaded gas stood at $3.319 on Tuesday afternoon, GasBuddy data show. Per gallon, that’s down 26.4 cents from a month ago and down 45.7 cents from a year ago.
The national average gas price is forecast to drop to $3.25 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.
Given that, U.S. drivers are expected to save $1.2 billion during the Thanksgiving travel period this year, compared to last year, when calculated for the Nov. 20 through Nov. 26 period, said De Haan.
The total gasoline spending over that time will be $8.6 billion for drivers this year, compared to $9.8 billion last year, he said.
Most travelers plan to begin their trip on Wednesday or Thursday, the survey showed, and of those traveling to take a road trip this year, 92% said they also traveled by car for Thanksgiving last year.
Meanwhile, 19% of respondents said they chose not to travel this year because inflation made fitting travel into their budget difficult, the survey said.
Still, U.S. data showed the cost of living was unchanged in October as the cost of gasoline dropped by 5.3% last month.
The survey showed that 55% of respondents will be suing cash back of loyalty programs to save money on gas.
De Haan also pointed out that the survey revealed that 71% of respondents who don’t currently own an electric vehicle are not interested in owning one, while 39% said they are more interesting in owning an EV than last year.
In a separate report released Monday, AAA forecast that 55.4 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving travel period, which it said runs from Nov. 22 to Nov. 26. AAA said that that’s the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since it began tracking holiday travel in 2000.
Among those travelers, 49.1 million will drive to their destinations, up 1.7% from the same time last year, AAA said.
This year, the national average gas peaked in mid-August at $3.87 and “has been coming down since, despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market,” said AAA.
GasBuddy’s De Haan said the current gas price average Tuesday stands at its lowest since February.
California’s gas price average also fell on Tuesday morning below $5 a gallon for the first time since August, and is likely heading much lower, he he told MarketWatch.