Only 32% of Americans Driving for Thanksgiving

Fewer drivers this time of year than during height of pandemic
gas station Thanksgiving traffic
Photograph: Shutterstock

BOSTON — While the economy may be bouncing back, Thanksgiving travel is not. GasBuddy, a fuel savings platform, revealed in its 2021 Annual Thanksgiving Travel Survey that only 32% of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, a decline from 35% last year that compares to some 65% that planned to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2019.

Image courtesy of GasBuddy

The national average price of gasoline is projected to decline to $3.35 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day, still among the highest the market has seen in more than seven years. But, according to GasBuddy’s analysis, there remains a remote chance that should oil suddenly surge, gas prices could quickly follow and potentially beat 2012’s record for most expensive national average ever for the date—$3.44 per gallon.

“Similarly to last year, motorists are contending with a rise in COVID-19 cases ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday when many drive to celebrate with friends and family. Only this year, we’re also just cents away from the highest Thanksgiving gas prices ever recorded,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “With global oil demand surging this year as the pandemic has eased, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory—some of the highest Thanksgiving gas prices on record. Americans are responding to the prices by slamming the car door shut and staying off the road.”

A full 75% of Americans also say that COVID-19 has had no effect on their holiday plans this year, up substantially from last year’s 46%, according to GasBuddy. Yet, even less are traveling this year than in 2020. GasBuddy’s research found that 50% of Americans say they are driving less overall this year, and when asked what it would take for them to drive more, an overwhelming 78% said lower gas prices.

Image courtesy of GasBuddy

Those who are traveling are opting for shorter trips, with most (13%) expecting to spend 1-3 hours in the car. When it comes to making a rest stop, decent gas prices remained of most importance to those selecting, though location and convenience rose above the rest stop’s cleanliness in 2021’s results.

GasBuddy analyzed 1,474 responses to its 2021 Thanksgiving Travel Survey from Oct. 28- Nov. 1, 2021.

Founded in 2000, Boston-based GasBuddy allows users to locate gas stations based on fuel prices, location, ratings and reviews.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a CSP member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content

Snacks & Candy

How Convenience Stores Can Improve Meat Snack, Jerky Sales

Innovation, creative retailers help spark growth in the snack segment


C-Stores Headed in the Right Direction With Rewards Programs

Convenience operators are working to catch up to the success of loyalty programs in other industries

General Merchandise/HBC

How Convenience Stores Can Prepare for Summer Travel Season

Vacationers more likely to spend more for premium, unique products, Lil’ Drug Store director says


More from our partners