Even though gasoline prices are at their lowest point since before Hurricane Katrina hit more than three years ago, many Iowans aren’t planning on going very far from home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Mitch Beaumont, spokesman for Triple-A-Iowa, says the faltering economy is putting a damper on the travel plans of many Americans.
Triple-A projects 41-million Americans will be traveling over Thanksgiving, a decrease of 1.4% from last year. It’s the first time since 2002 there’s been a projected decrease in travel for Thanksgiving. That’s a drop of 600,000 travelers from last Thanksgiving. Beaumont says it’ll be the fourth consecutive holiday this year where the travel numbers are expected to fall.
The reasons can be tracked to consumer confidence as people have less money to spend, Beaumont says, while there are higher airfares and fewer airline seats available as the number of flights has been reduced. Still, many Iowans are planning vacations for this holiday weekend and for next month. Beaumont says it’s a buyer’s market.
"If you have the time and if you’re flexible in finding seats on the flight, there are some fabulous deals out there," he says. Gasoline prices statewide are averaging a $1.77 a gallon, about 11-cents a gallon below the national average. The state average a year ago was three-oh-four a gallon. The cheapest gas in the state is in Des Moines at a $1.65, while Cedar Rapids has the highest average in Iowa at a $1.85.