BOISE, Idaho — Idahoans are facing many obstacles that could interfere with their Thanksgiving travel plans this year, but expensive gas prices won't be among them.
AAA says that Gem State drivers are on track for some of the biggest savings on turkey day fill-ups since 2015.
Idaho drivers are currently paying $2.30 for a gallon of regular fuel, which is five cents less than a month ago and 68 cents cheaper than a year ago. The current national average is $2.11, which is six cents less than a month ago and 48 cents less than a year ago.
"Fuel demand could rise a bit over the holiday weekend, but for most of the year, we've seen 50 or 60-cent discounts on the price of gasoline," says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. "Hopefully, that means more families will be able to afford a really nice Thanksgiving feast this year. After everything that's happened, they deserve it."
Here's a seven-year retrospective on Thanksgiving Day gas prices:
- YEAR U.S. IDAHO
- 2019 $2.59 $2.96
- 2018 $2.59 $2.99
- 2017 $2.52 $2.66
- 2016 $2.13 $2.36
- 2015 $2.05 $2.18
- 2014 $2.80 $3.03
- 2013 $3.28 $3.60
Gas prices are expected to continue to drop into the first part of next year, with an occasional change in the pattern if the number of COVID cases drops or if restrictions are eased.
AAA recommends following health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of sickness. The motor association initially projected that 50 million Americans, including 266,000 Idahoans, will travel this Thanksgiving, a ten percent decrease from a year ago. But with new travel restrictions in many states, AAA now expects even fewer travelers this year.
Those who decide to travel for the holiday should review AAA's COVID-19 information and the AAA COVID-19 map for the latest updates and travel restrictions in the areas they'll be visiting and passing through.
"Many of the rules have changed – on the road, at the airport, even at hotels and restaurants," Conde said. "If you're planning to travel, do your homework ahead of time so that you can accurately assess the risks associated with that decision, and minimize them as much as possible."
Regardless of your mode of travel, face masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes should be used to reduce the risk of exposure from person-to-person interactions and contact with high-touch surfaces, including hotel rooms and on airplanes. Consider using gloves or a plastic bag to touch the pump handle when you need to stop to top off your gas tank.
Holiday travelers should try to avoid rush-hour on Tuesday afternoon, when evening commuters are also sharing the road. Discuss your travel plans with loved ones who can act on your behalf if you fail to arrive on time, particularly if you're heading into a remote area, and bring food, water, warm clothing, and other emergency kit items with you.
"Before you go, check traffic cameras and weather conditions along your route, and adjust accordingly," Conde said. "If you find yourself on a snowy or icy road that has not been properly maintained, don't blindly follow your GPS – turn around."
Drivers should expect cold winter weather this week, with below-freezing temperatures in the early morning hours and at higher elevations. Snow showers are predicted for some areas, and chains or other traction control devices may be required.