Over half of Americans cite high gas prices for tapping the brakes on travel, according to a survey indicating 51% fewer Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving compared to 2019.
While the economy may be bouncing back, Thanksgiving travel is not. GasBuddy, the leading fuel savings platform providing North American drivers with the most ways to save money on gas, revealed in its 2021 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey that 32% of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, a decline from 35% last year that compares to some 65% that planned to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2019.
The national average price of gasoline is projected to decline to $3.35 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day, still amongst the highest seen in over seven years. But there remains a remote chance that should oil suddenly surge, gas prices could quickly follow and potentially beat 2012's record for most expensive national average ever for the date: $3.44 per gallon.
"Similarly to last year, motorists are contending with a rise in COVID cases ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday when many drive to celebrate with friends and family. Only this year, we're also just cents away from the highest Thanksgiving gas prices ever recorded," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. "With global oil demand surging this year as the pandemic has eased, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory - some of the highest Thanksgiving gas prices on record. Americans are responding to the prices by slamming the car door shut and staying off the road."
Seventy-five percent of Americans also say that COVID-19 has had no impact on their holiday plans this year, up substantially from last year's 46%. Yet, even less are traveling this year than in 2020. Fifty percent of Americans say they are driving less overall this year, and when asked what it would take for them to drive more, an overwhelming 78% said lower gas prices.
Those who are traveling are opting for shorter trips, with most (13%) expecting to spend 1-3 hours in the car. When it comes to making a rest stop, decent gas prices remained of most importance to those selecting, though location and convenience rose above the rest stop's cleanliness in 2021's results.