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Gas prices down for holiday travel
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Pinellas County residents can enjoy low gas prices, take a holiday vacation with a trip to the beach and still be home for Christmas.
Millions of travelers will be grateful for falling gas prices as they take to the roadways this holiday season.

As of Monday, Dec. 17, a gallon of regular unleaded only a penny higher than last year at $3.25, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

Floridians were paying slightly more than the national average, $3.26, which is about 1.5 cents less than the same date in 2011. People living in the metropolitan area of Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater were playing an average of $3.17 – 3 cents less than last year and 7 cents less than they paid at the pump last week.

The good news is that experts predict the downward trend will continue with prices below $3 becoming commonplace in the near future.

Prices in Pinellas County had already fallen below $3, according to prices posted Monday night on www.t­ampag­aspri­ces.c­om. Stations throughout the county were offering gas at $2.99. Prices ranged from $2.97 to a high of $3.29.

“The year-end holiday season is the busiest travel time of the year,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson for The Auto Club Group. “Whether families plan a traditional holiday at grandma’s house or a cruise to the Caribbean, one thing is certain, being with family and friends remain the most important factor during the holiday season.”

Despite an increase in holiday travel throughout the year and an expected increase for Christmas and New Year’s, AAA reports that three in five people prefer to stay home for Christmas.

However, a large number, three in four, said they were interested in taking an unorthodox holiday vacation, such as a cruise to the tropics or visiting another country, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse Survey.

Vacationing to the tropics was the top pick of those surveyed interested in traveling during the holidays with 63 percent opting for a cruise and 50 percent setting their sights on international destinations. Fifty percent want a tropical vacation and 37 percent plan to take a trip to the beach.

Pinellas County residents have the best of both worlds. They can enjoy low gas prices, take a holiday vacation with a trip to the beach and still be home for Christmas.
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