Study expects 46% fewer travelers this Thanksgiving

Road trip through the USA. Photo by iStock.

Fewer people will be traveling this Thanksgiving, according to a study by GasBuddy.

The travel and navigation app analyzed 1,860 responses to its 2020 annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey that was conducted between Oct. 25-28, and it revealed that 35% of Americans will be traveling this holiday, which is down from 65% last year.

Fifteen percent of the respondents who are traveling this Thanksgiving said they were doing so because of the low gas prices. That is an increase from last year when only 6% of respondents said they were traveling to take advantage of the gas prices.

“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,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “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. 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 pandemic.”

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said gas prices are not impacting their travel plans. The national average for gas price is projected to be $2.17 per gallon, the lowest since 2016. Despite the low gas prices, 46% of its respondents said COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their travel plans.

When asked how the pandemic has impacted them, 71% said they are staying home instead of traveling this year, 5% said they are not celebrating Thanksgiving this year due to the coronavirus, 20% said they are celebrating Thanksgiving at a different location this year and 11% said they will be driving instead of taking other forms of transportation to their Thanksgiving destination.

“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,” De Haan said. “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.”

The survey found that there is a 75% increase in those traveling less than one hour this year, compared to last year. Those who are traveling said gas prices, convenience, cleanliness, brand and food options are most important, respectively.

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