The lowest gas prices in seven years have arrived just in time for some of the busiest holiday travel days of the year.
An estimated 47 million people nationwide will be traveling this week for Thanksgiving and those who go by car will enjoy the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, according to AAA.
AAA released its annual Thanksgiving travel survey results last week. The holiday brings with it one of the most hectic travel periods; the day before Thanksgiving typically is the busiest travel day of the year.
The 47 million Americans who plan to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday weekend – which AAA defines as Nov. 25-29 – marks a slight 0.6 percent increase over last year. It is the seventh straight year in which Thanksgiving travel has been on the rise, according to AAA.
Lower gas prices, increased spending money and employment growth are combining to spur slightly more people to travel than last year, according to AAA.
The vast majority of those heading to visit friends, family and other destinations will get there by car. About 42 million, or 89 percent, plan to travel by auto, up 0.7 percent from last year.
Drivers will notice prices at the pumps are lower than they were around Thanksgiving last year. On Monday, Connecticut drivers paid an average of $2.26 a gallon for regular gas, down nearly a dollar from $3.20 last year. Nationwide, drivers paid $2.18 a gallon Monday, down from $2.80 a year ago.
Within Connecticut, drivers in the Bridgeport area paid the most to fill up Monday. Gas there cost an average of $2.35 a gallon, down from $3.30 a year ago.
By comparison, Hartford drivers paid an average of $2.22 a gallon Monday, down from $3.15 last year; those in the New Haven-Meriden area paid $2.24, down from $3.19 a year ago; and drivers in New London-Norwich paid $2.24, down from last year’s $3.18.
But not everyone plans to hit the road. Nationwide, about 3.6 million people, or almost 8 percent of travelers plan to go by plane, up 0.1 percent from a year ago. Another 1.3 million, or 3 percent, will take another mode of transportation, such as trains, buses or cruise ships, down 1.4 percent from last year, according to AAA.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows airfares are 10 percent cheaper than they were a year ago, while car rental rates are 8 percent higher and room rates for AAA Three Diamond-rated hotels are flat.
The projections are based on economic forecasting and research done for AAA by Colorado-based IHS Global Insight, which has been helping AAA analyze holiday travel trends since 2009.