Americans hitting the road for Thanksgiving will certainly have something to be extra thankful for: the cheapest gasoline prices since March 2009. The low prices are showing up just in time for millions of motorists that are heading out, saving them $1.5 billion over the five days that GasBuddy’s recent survey found most motorists will be travelling.
GasBuddy projects that by Thanksgiving Day the national average will be $1.99 per gallon, nearly 80 cents per gallon cheaper than last year and $1.29 per gallon cheaper than 2013. As prices at the pump have plunged, the number of states seeing average prices under $2 per gallon has more than tripled in the last two weeks, rising to 19 states, with nearly 60 percent of all U.S. gas stations now selling below $2 per gallon.
Lower gas prices could be a reason why more people will be spending more time on the road this holiday weekend. According to GasBuddy’s 2015 Thanksgiving Travel Survey (with more than 100,000 surveyed nationwide), 25 percent of travelers say their travel will begin on Thanksgiving Day; while nearly 30 percent say travel begins the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and another 23 percent say they’ll hit the road two to three days ahead. That’s an 11 percent decrease in the number of people who say they’re heading out on Thanksgiving Day. In 2014, 36 percent said they’d travel on Thanksgiving Day; 30 percent said they’d travel the day before; and only 18 percent said they’d hit the road two to three days earlier.
“With gas prices plunging under $2 just in time for Thanksgiving Day, it’s a perfect reminder - some folks automatically expect gas prices to rise in advance of a major travel holiday, that’s become a popular misconception and this holiday exemplifies the point. November gas prices have slid significantly lower and holiday travelers will certainly be the beneficiaries,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “It’s a trend we expect will continue through the end of 2015, so if you like the prices you see on Thanksgiving, you’ll be delighted when Christmas arrives.”
Gas prices might be low but there are still additional ways to save even more while on the road: Be aware crossing state lines. Over 67 percent of travelers will be driving over 200 miles for Thanksgiving, with 36 percent saying they will be traveling over 500 miles. This means it is very likely that drivers will be traveling through different states. Additional savings can be found if alert motorists shop for the lowest prices near state lines, where substantial variety in gasoline prices occurs due to gas tax differences.
Don’t stop at the first gas station you see. Cheaper prices mean more price variations between stations. Station owners know that consumers often buy gas out of convenience so be sure to shop around. Motorists who use the GasBuddy price-comparison app said they save at least 6-9 cents per gallon.
Of course, an ounce of prevention always helps too. Check the air pressure in your tires and remember the spare tire too. Save money on gasoline as more stations offer lower prices to cash paying customers. Using cash can lead to savings of 5 to 15 cents per gallon.
Delay buying gasoline. The more you wait, the more you save. GasBuddy analysts expect gasoline prices to keep moving downward through Thanksgiving Day weekend, so motorists can save on every gallon waiting for gas stations to drop prices further.