The price of gas has inched up since a week ago when Missouri had the lowest price at the pump in the country, but Show Me State residents are still projected to hit the road in droves over the holidays. AAA is predicting record travel, both in Missouri and nationwide, for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s.
Gail Weinholzer with AAA says more than 107-million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles from home between December 23rd and January 1st.
“There’s going to be a lot of people traveling and there’s been a lot people traveling all year,” Weinholzer says. “We’ve seen year-over-year increases for every major holiday this year, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and now Christmas/New Year’s. Clearly, Americans are traveling in robust numbers and we expect that to continue into 2018.”
This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end travel. Missouri’s interstates and highways will be busy, so Weinholzer says to plan accordingly.
“Actually, we are seeing increases across the board, personal automobiles, planes, trains, buses, everything,” Weinholzer says. “We’re seeing a significant increase and overall, the increase is 3.1% over last year.”
The season of Winter is officially underway, having officially started Thursday, and Missouri has been spared from any major weather events so far. Still, Weinholzer says most Missourians don’t let a little ice or snow get in the way of their vacation plans.
“When it comes to something like the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, weather does tend to have a little bit of an impact as far as causing people to leave perhaps a day earlier or a day later, but it rarely cancels travel plans,” Weinholzer says. “People are pretty committed to visiting family and friends.”
Higher gasoline prices won’t keep people home either. The average price for a gallon of gas in Missouri is $2.17, about a penny below the national average and 24-cents higher than a year ago. St. Louis has the state’s most expensive gas at $2.29 a gallon while Joplin is the cheapest at $2.07.
Although the mid-Missouri cities of Columbia and Jefferson City are separated less than 30 miles, the price at the pump is notably higher in the capital city. As of Friday, the average fuel cost in Jefferson City was $2.22 versus $2.18 in Columbia.