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Lower fuel prices mean cheaper holiday traveling

November 23, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - Bathroom breaks and questions of "Are we there yet?" aside, that trip to grandma's house is shaping to be a little more bearable this Thanksgiving - more than $1 per gallon less expensive for area residents.

According to travel services provider AAA Mid-Atlantic, the average price of regular gasoline in Hagerstown was $1.92 per gallon Friday, down from $3.11 per gallon at this time last year.

Even with lower gas prices, AAA Mid-Atlantic forecasts a small decline in the number of Americans traveling during the holiday weekend.

About 41 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving weekend, a 1.4 percent decrease from last year. In Maryland, the decline in holiday travelers compared to last year is estimated at 1.5 percent, with 795,200 Maryland residents projected to travel.

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"This is the first decline in six years, since 2002, for Thanksgiving holiday travel, and is the fourth consecutive travel holiday this year with a year-to-year decline in the number of travelers," said Ragina C. Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "This Thanksgiving holiday, it seems Americans are in a tug of war between their heart strings and their purse strings in terms of travel plans, given the overall state of the economy."

More than 33.2 million Americans - 81 percent of all holiday travelers - expect to travel by automobile, a 1.2 percent decrease from a year ago. In Maryland, about 649,600 travelers will take to the roads, a decline of 1.5 percent from last year's holiday.

Prices at individual gas stations are available online at AAA's Fuel Price Finder at aaa.opisnet.com.

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