RICHMOND, Va. — The number of people planning to travel for the holidays this year has reached near pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean. And a recent drop in gas prices is helping fuel the increase in travelers.
The Richmond-Petersburg market was selling a gallon of unleaded gas at $3.04 on average Wednesday, according to AAA.
The state average is four cents higher, at $3.08 a gallon. The national average is $3.21 a gallon.
Virginians are paying $1.76 less for a gallon of gas compared to the record-high set back in mid-June at $4.86 a gallon.
Dean likened the rise and drop in prices as a rollercoaster ride. Demand for gas has fallen in other parts of the world like in China due to a surge COVID-19 cases.
AAA said the sharp decline at the pumps could slow somewhat given the decision by OPEC+ over the weekend to continue cutting production, but that the decrease in prices will likely continue.
“I think for a lot of people that really is a bit of a gift towards the end of the season here. As we get into the holidays, seeing gas prices much lower, may find a few extra coins on the pocket, which will help pay for some of those gifts or some of the experiences at the end of the year,” Dean explained.
AAA estimated 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home during December 23 to January 2.
That’s an increase of 3.6 million people over last year and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers.
“About 90% of travel will be by car, which is not a huge surprise. But when we start to look at folks that will be flying, we're looking at about 7.2 million. That's very close to the 7.3 million that we saw back in 2019,” Dean stated.
He recommends booking your flight earlier in the day just in case of delays or cancellations.
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