BOISE – As more than 115 million Americans, including 660,000 Idahoans, prepare for a holiday vacation, falling gas prices will make the journey a bit merrier.
According to AAA, today’s average price for a gallon of regular in the Gem State is $3.30, which is 11 cents less than a week ago, 41 cents less than a month ago, and 32 cents less than a year ago. Meanwhile, the national average currently sits at $3.10 per gallon, which is 2 cents less than a week ago, 21 cents less than a month ago, and 2 cents less than a year ago.
AAA predicts the second-busiest travel volume for the year-end holidays, and a new record for the number of air travelers.
“It’s been another busy year for road trips and flights, with everything building to a crescendo for Christmas and New Year’s,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “We encourage everyone to keep safety, patience, and courtesy top of mind so that we can all celebrate in style.”
Here’s a seven-year retrospective on Christmas Day pump prices:
The busiest days on the road will be Saturday, December 23, and Saturday, December 30. The busiest times at the airport will be December 21 and 22. But with an additional 2.5 million travelers this year, AAA warns that long lines and congested roads can occur at any time over the holidays.
- Pack important documents, medication, toiletries, snacks, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. If possible, avoid checking bags altogether.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area at the airport and take a picture of your car’s location. Hide or remove valuables.
- Download the airline app for the latest updates, including possible delays or gate changes.
- Arrive early so that you can relax and enjoy food, art, and other activities at the airport.
- Avoid wearing bulky coats in your vehicle. Dress in layers that allow freedom of movement.
- Don’t blindly follow your GPS. If a road doesn’t appear to be maintained, turn around.
- Share your travel plans with a loved one who can act on your behalf if you fail to arrive.
- Actively scan the road for potholes, ice, debris, and wildlife.
- If you start to skid, keep steering in the direction you want to go.
“We never tire of saying it because it never stops being true – your emergency kit is an important resource to have on a long trip, especially during inclement weather,” Conde said. “That includes first-aid items, a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares or reflectors, jumper cables, basic tools, snacks and water, and a couple of extra blankets. You may also want a collapsible shovel and tire chains depending on where you’re headed.”
Every year, AAA and the Idaho Transportation Department promote Idaho Ready, a program to raise awareness of the driving conditions that are found in the Gem State.
The West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude oil is currently trading near $74 per barrel, which is $5 more than a week ago, $4 less than a month ago, and $2 less than a year ago. Lower seasonal demand is contributing to lower crude prices. The cost of crude oil makes up more than half of the price of finished gasoline.
90% of holiday travelers, or about 104 million people, will go by car – an increase of nearly two million people from a year ago. Another 7.5 million passengers will fly, setting a new record for the travel period. Travel by other modes, such as cruise ships, buses and trains, will increase by 11% to 4.1 million people.
Taking your road trip to the next level
- A small cookie sheet with magnets can become an art station for kids to draw and color.
- A shower caddy from the dollar store to hold snacks and art supplies.
- A neck or travel pillow for longer road trips (and flights).
- Download podcasts and create road trip playlists, including holiday favorites or one-hit wonders.
- Look for unusual snacks, mementos, and gifts at gas stations and other “pit stops.”
“As always, we invite everyone to celebrate the holidays responsibly,” Conde said. “Please have a game plan to keep friends and family members who may be impaired from getting behind the wheel.”