The Thanksgiving travel season will be notably different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. GasBuddy has released its 2020 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey, finding that only 35% of Americans will be taking to the roads this year, a decrease from 65% from last year, amidst some of the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices the country has seen in years.
The national average gas price is projected to be $2.17 per gallon, lower this year as oil prices plunged from year ago levels amidst depressed demand for gasoline due to the coronavirus keeping Americans closer to home and away from their normal driving routines.
“Gasoline demand has continued to struggle as the coronavirus has kept Americans in their homes and keys out of their cars, working and e-learning from home. But with positive outcomes from two vaccine trials, we’re beginning to see optimism return, leading prices to rise
slightly just in time for Thanksgiving,” says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “However, survey results show continued anxiety from motorists even with the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in years, highlighting the challenges we’re facing in this
Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents in GasBuddy’s Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey said that their travel plans are impacted by the coronavirus. When asked in what ways they were impacted, 71% said they are staying home instead of traveling this year. Five percent said they are not celebrating Thanksgiving this year due to the coronavirus. The remainder are either celebrating Thanksgiving at a different location this year (20%), or driving instead of taking other forms of transportation to their Thanksgiving destination (11%).
Yet low gas prices are luring people to travel more than ever before. Fifteen percent of those who said they are planning to travel said they are doing so to take advantage of gas prices, a significant jump compared to 6% of people saying the same last year and 2% in 2018.
Seventy-nine percent of people said that gas prices are not impacting their travel plans. “Typically during the holidays, it’s all about traditions and less about the cost, even when gas prices were over $3, plenty of Americans didn’t hesitate to travel for Thanksgiving,” said De Haan. “With Americans still concerned about traveling by plane, many families will take advantage of low prices and make a road trip when they otherwise wouldn’t.”
Those who are traveling are taking shorter trips than in years past, with survey results seeing a 75% increase in those who are traveling less than one hour to their Thanksgiving destination compared to 2019.
Cleanliness is a bigger concern for travelers this year when choosing a pit stop. Finding clean facilities has jumped to the third most important consideration when choosing a gas station compared to the fourth most important consideration in 2019, and the last spot in 2018. The top considerations for travelers when choosing a pit stop this year are gas prices (1), convenience (2), cleanliness (3), brand (4) and food options (5).
The top three reasons for making pit stops this travel season are needing to use the restroom (1), filling up the gas tank (2), needing to stretch the legs (3).
GasBuddy offers these travel tips for those who are traveling for Thanksgiving:
● Watch for price differences between state lines: Gas prices can vary as much as $20 per tank in some areas of the country between state lines.
● Use the GasBuddy app to find cheap gas and clean restrooms: GasBuddy’s free app allows drivers to search for gas stations with the lowest-priced fuel as well as the cleanest restrooms along their route.
Methodology: GasBuddy analyzed 1860 responses to their 2020 Thanksgiving Travel Survey from October 25 – 28, 2020.