Santa Barbara resident Max Salcedo typically drives to Sacramento for Thanksgiving, but not this year.
“One of the main reasons I came to Santa Barbara was because I didn’t want to drive so much,” Salcedo said as he filled up his vehicle at USA Gasoline at 636 W. Carrillo St.
Gas prices are at a record high for the holiday season, according to Auto Club of Southern California spokeswoman Marie Montgomery.
“We’ve never paid this much for gas around Thanksgiving,” she said. “Santa Barbara has been around $3.85 a gallon this fall and prices veered up and down a little bit, but motorists haven’t had much relief.”
The previous holiday high for a gallon of unleaded gas was $3.08 in 2007, said Montgomery, who doesn’t expect the price to drop much lower than its current national $3.40 average. That price is 52 cents higher than last Thanksgiving, according to GasBuddy.com.
“It’s never a good omen when you have high gas prices at the end of the year,” she said. “Prices are going down at the moment, but we haven’t seen double-digit decreases so they probably aren’t going to be much lower.”
The average price was $3.89 in Santa Barbara on Thursday, 5.3 cents less than a week ago, according to GasBuddy.com. The price was 7 cents lower than this time last month but 69.2 cents higher year-to-date.
“Usually we take long drives once a week to Santa Ynez or San Luis Obispo, but we can’t anymore,” said Santa Barbara resident Wes Carpenter, who offloads sea urchins. “Now we only do it about once a month.”
Santa Barbara residents can find the cheapest gas at the 76 station at 4401 Via Real at $3.69, USA Gasoline at 636 W. Carrillo St. at $3.71, Conserv Fuel at 150 S. La Cumbre Road at $3.75 and ARCO at 1935 State St. at $3.75. The next cheapest stations are Valero at 134 S. Milpas St. at $3.75, Thrifty at 4069 State St. at $3.77, and USA Gasoline at 340 W. Carrillo St. at $3.77.
Motorists can find the cheapest diesel fuel at the Conserv Fuel at $4.29 a gallon.
The Auto Club’s annual holiday travel forecast estimates 42.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home Nov. 23-27, up 4 percent from a year ago.