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Car trips up this holiday

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you heading out in your car on a road trip to celebrate the holiday? If you are, you'll be joined by more than 39 million other Americans, and you'll be paying more for gasoline during the holidays than in recent years, according to AAA.

AAA predicts that 39.1 million Americans will take road trips of at least 50 miles during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which runs from Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25. That's a slight increase of 0.6 percent over last year, but it also marks the fourth consecutive year of increases in the number of road travelers.

The busiest travel day is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 21, according to a AAA survey where 45 percent of respondents said they would be leaving town. The next busiest day was Sunday, Nov. 25, at 36 percent. Drivers who are planning to take to the road on these days would be wise to travel at an off-peak time and to check traffic reports along their route before they depart as well as during their road trips.

Gasoline prices also will be at the highest they have been for the Thanksgiving holidays in recent history, though they will be lower than they have been in recent weeks. AAA projects gas prices will drop to between $3.25 and $3.40 per gallon of regular unleaded by the holiday, which is about 40 cents less on average than in early October. Still, it's much higher than the $2.75-per-gallon price that was the national average for the holiday period from 2007-2011.

To save money on gas while on a road trip, use a smartphone app like GasBuddy or the gas-price app from Yellow Pages, YP Local Search & Gas Prices, to find the cheapest gas in a town you are unfamiliar with. Better yet, let Cost2Drive.com calculate your gas usage based on the car you drive, and identify the cheapest places for a fill-up along your route in advance.

Will you be traveling for the Thanksgiving holidays? How much will you pay for gas on your route?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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