The 41 million Americans who will hit the road for Thanksgiving travel this week have something to look forward to: the lowest gas prices in five years.
The national average gas price on Monday was $2.81, although the Connecticut average was 35 cents higher at $3.14. AAA predicts that gas prices over the Thanksgiving holiday will be lower than they’ve been in five years.
The total number of travelers amounts to 46 million, but about 3.5 million of those will be traveling by air and another 1.5 million by other means.
AAA spokesman Aaron Kupec said his agency is predicting that 2 million New Englanders will travel between Wednesday and Sunday—a 4 percent increase over last year and the highest volume of travel since 2007. Almost 90 percent will travel by car.
Kupec said the rise in travel had “more to do with an improving economy, although gas prices are a part of it.”
The median Thanksgiving budget for a New England resident is $413, of which almost 40 percent will be going to fuel, Kupec said. Nationwide, AAA expects travelers to spend $573 over the course of the holiday, although 10 percent less of their budgets will go to fuel than New England drivers.
Connecticut mirrors most national trends for Thanksgiving travel. Traveling is up 4 percent across the country and almost 90 percent of travelers will drive.
New England residents will travel an average of 526 miles, although half of all trips will be between 150 and 240 miles. Wednesday and Sunday will be the busiest days for travel, according to AAA.
Kupec said travelers can expect delays in the “usual places” around the state, particularly on I-91 North through Hartford. New Hampshire and Vermont are popular destinations for drivers this year.
Kupec said that AAA is encouraging drivers to monitor the weather forecast carefully and drive at off-peak times.
Thanksgiving weather will be varied at best. The Weather Channel is predicting a “high impact storm” for Wednesday and mild rain and snow across New England on Thanksgiving Day.
The National Weather Service is predicting a light snow accumulation with temperatures in the lower 30s on Wednesday, while Thanksgiving Day will be mostly cloudy with temperatures in the upper 30s during the day with lows in the mid-20s at night.
State Police spokesman Paul Vance said drivers should make sure their vehicles are ready for winter driving. He said drivers should watch the weather, allow extra time for driving and bring a fully charged cell phone in case they do need to call for help.
Vance also said that there would be more DUI checkpoints on the road over the holiday.