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GasBuddy: Only 32% of Americans plan to drive to Thanksgiving

The survey indicates more than half of respondents are citing high fuel prices as the reason they're keeping it close to home this holiday.

CHICAGO — It appears more Americans will be keeping Thanksgiving dinner closer to home this holiday, and many indicate that fuel prices are the reasons why.

Results from GasBuddy's 2021 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey of nearly 1,500 motorists suggest just 32% of Americans plan to travel for the holiday dinner this year, down from 35% last year when COVID concerns were top of mind. More than half of the respondents cited high gas costs as the reason for staying home. 

Despite the fact that fuel prices are projected to dip slightly to a national average of $3.35 by Thanksgiving Day, GasBuddy says that mark is still among the highest the U.S. has seen in over seven years. In fact, the online fuel savings platform says a sudden surge in oil costs (which is possible) could push prices at the pump past the current record high of $3.44, set back in 2012.  

“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.”

Other findings from this year's survey:

  • 75% say COVID has no impact on their holiday travel plans this year
  • 50% of respondents say they are driving less this year
  • When asked what it would take for them to drive more, 78% said lower gas prices

GasBuddy says consumers can save as much as 25 cents per gallon by using fuel discount cards or joining loyalty programs, and urges travelers to use the GasBuddy app to check prices at gas stations across the country. 

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