Gasoline prices have dropped as Florida motorists hit the road for one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
More than 2.9 million Floridians are forecast to drive or fly more than 50 miles for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the AAA auto club.
AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Monday was $3.46.
That price was even with the all-time Florida Thanksgiving high in 2013 and 10 cents a gallon higher than last year.
But AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said the average pump price dropped by about a dime over the past week and is expected to continue to decline.
“Prices at the pump are likely to drop through the holiday weekend. Gas prices could ultimately fall 20 to 30 cents per gallon,” Jenkins said in a prepared statement Monday. “The downturn is being driven by strong refinery output, which led to a big gain in gasoline supplies.”
Meanwhile, the number of people planning to travel more than 50 miles for the holiday is higher than in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to AAA.
AAA said Orlando is the top Thanksgiving travel destination nationally, based on hotel bookings, followed by Anaheim, Calif., Las Vegas, New York City and Atlanta.
Of the Floridians expected to travel more than 50 miles, about 2.7 million will drive.
Florida’s average gas price hit an all-time high of $4.89 on June 13 but steadily declined through the summer. The price temporarily dipped again in October, when the state held a tax “holiday” that suspended gas-tax collections.
Fuel-savings app GasBuddy said that while the number of Americans traveling during the holiday will be up nearly 20 percent from 2021, just over 20 percent won’t take to the roads because of high fuel prices.
But AAA expects Floridians to try to offset high gas prices by looking for discounts on rooms and food.
“Higher gas prices don’t seem to be enough to stop people from traveling to be with family and friends,” Jenkins said last week. “We’ve found that when gas prices are high, travelers look to offset the added cost by staying in a less expensive hotel or spending less on shopping and dining out.”
Besides gas prices, airfares are up 22 percent and hotel rooms are up 17 percent.
Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gas Monday was $3.66, down 11 cents from a week ago and 16 cents from a month ago. But it was 26 cents higher than a year ago.
“According to GasBuddy data, Friday U.S. gasoline demand jumped 12.7 percent from the previous Friday, as Americans get ready for Thanksgiving, and was up 7.3 percent from the average of the last four Fridays,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a Twitter post Saturday. “Week-to-date (Sun-Fri), U.S. gasoline demand is up 4.8 percent from the prior week.”
GasBuddy predicts the national average to stand at $3.68 a gallon on Thanksgiving Day.