Stuffing your face with turkey is the best part of Thanksgiving, but second place should probably go to stuffing your gas tank with cheap, plentiful fuel.
The Auto Club of Southern California says 3.65 million Southern Californians will travel for Thanksgiving weekend, the most since the Great Recession started in 2007. And drivers — 86 percent of those travelers will hit the road instead of flying or taking trains — will enjoy the lowest gas prices in five years, according to station comparison site GasBuddy.com.
This week the average price of a gallon of fuel in the Los Angeles area fell 8 cents and stands at about $2.75, according to GasBuddy. The site last night listed some stations selling 87 octane fuel for as low as $2.19. The Auto Club says SoCal is reporting a 3 percent decrease in prices compared with the holiday weekend last year.
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The top destinations for Southern California turkey-day travelers are Las Vegas (which is also the top destination nationwide), San Diego (third nationwide), the Grand Canyon, San Francisco (second nationwide) and Santa Barbara.
"With a record amount of travelers, motorists will be facing congestion not only on highways but gas stations," Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said in a statement.
Will this gas-price bliss last forever? We asked DeHaan, who said it's up the air. Low prices are the result of a historically free-flowing supply from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). The United States has also had record-high production rates. However, the oil market is nervously eyeing a Nov. 30 OPEC meeting in Vienna at which members will essentially vote either to keep up production levels or cut back and see prices rise, DeHaan said.
"We might see sliding prices going into Thanksgiving," he said. "In the backdrop, oil prices will be reacting to OPEC's Nov. 30 meeting. OPEC is either cutting production or not cutting production. Both would be major decisions that could impact the price of oil."