LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Before the pandemic, central Kentucky was used to seeing gas prices decline after Labor Day weekend, but this year, they’re still seeing higher than normal prices at the pump.

Even with the prices being higher than normal, Kentucky is still down another two cents on the week heading into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The Commonwealth will see an 8% increase in holiday travel this year compared to last.

“We’re expecting about 715,000 folks here in Kentucky to travel this Thanksgiving holiday,” Lori Weaver Hawkins, Public Affairs Manager, AAA Blue Grass said.

Out of the 715,000 travelers, 96% will be traveling by car.

“We did find that about 37% of folks say that they did take gas prices into account when they were deciding whether or not they wanted to travel,” Hawkins said.

In the Commonwealth, gas prices have risen about 20 cents on average in the past month.

Gavin Back, a consumer at the pump, says he will be traveling back-to-back weekends for Thanksgiving, and he is budgeting for how much gas will cost him on top of what he already spends for his 40-mile commute to work.

“You know there’s other things I can put that money towards, but gas is just required,” Back said. “When the prices just rise it just makes it that much harder to keep putting gas in your car to keep getting to work.”

One reason demand has been so high has been due to the residual effects of Hurricane Ida. The storm delayed operations to transport fuel across the US, compounded with the current national truck-driver shortage.

According to AAA, Oil Market dynamics also have to be taken into consideration with fluctuating gas prices. At the close of each Friday’s formal trading session, OPEC decides whether to maintain production cuts or not to the US’s crude oil supply. The crude prices decline as long as their inventory increases.

Even with the prices for premium gas reaching almost $4 per gallon, it is not deterring people from traveling in Kentucky.

However, AAA says central Kentucky is seeing a bit of stabilization.

“In the past week, we’ve actually seen both the national and state average come down about a penny or two,” Hawkins said.

Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, central Kentucky is seeing unleaded gas priced at $3.08 per gallon, which is 2 cents down from a month ago.

“It’s accurate to say that most areas of central Kentucky we’re seeing prices stabilize or even drop a penny,” Hawkins said.

Crude oil dropped to under $80 a barrel, lowering gas prices just in time for the holiday. Until global oil production ramps back up to pre-pandemic levels, Hawkins said that the dip in prices may only be temporary.

AAA says they’re expecting to help about 1,300 Kentuckians with roadside assistance this Thanksgiving, and 600 will be expected to require a tow.

In order to minimize risks of a breakdown, AAA recommends scheduling a vehicle checkup to check key components including:

  • Battery
  • Fuel System
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Fluid Levels

The window of time where travelers hitting the road is expected to hit peak rush hour traffic will be:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24 (12pm-8pm)
  • Thursday, Nov. 25 (12pm-3pm)
  • Friday, Nov. 26 (1pm-4pm)
  • Saturday, Nov. 27 (2pm-7pm)
  • Sunday, Nov. 28 (1pm-7pm)

The best times to travel will be:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24 (After 9pm)
  • Thursday, Nov. 25 (Before 11am)
  • Friday, Nov. 26 (Before 11am)
  • Saturday, Nov. 27 (Before 12pm)
  • Sunday, Nov. 28 (Before 12pm)

Out of the 715,000 travelers, only 9% feel traveling over the Thanksgiving Holiday poses a significant risk of COVID.

The 2021 Top Thanksgiving US Destinations include Orlando, Fl., Anaheim, CA., and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tx. Meanwhile, the top international destinations include Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Aruba.

All data has been provided by AAA and a Thanksgiving Holiday Travel survey of Kentucky Drivers they conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of AAA, November 4-5, 2021. The margin of error is ~2.8%.