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Driving for Thanksgiving? Take these steps to save some money on your trip

We have everything you need to save at the pump and make fewer stops during your Thanksgiving travel this year

ST. LOUIS — For many people, Thanksgiving means traveling to see family and friends. AAA is estimating more than 48 million people will hit the roads this week, which is up 8% from last year.

With so many people driving to their Thanksgiving destination, there is one surefire way to save some money on your trip: finding the cheapest gas in town.

If you are looking to fill up or top off your tank before you head out of town or across the area, 5 On Your Side has a tool for you.

If you head to KSDK.com/gasprices, you'll find a list of the 10 cheapest prices for gas in the greater St. Louis area. As of Monday afternoon, five of the cheapest locations are in Wentzville and the cheapest is in House Springs.

The top 10 list is powered by GasBuddy, which also has smartphone apps in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so you can find the cheapest option while on the go.

And if you want to make your tank last a little longer, here are some tips from fueleconomy.gov to maximize your miles per gallon.

  • Drive sensibly: Aggressive driving like speeding, rapid acceleration and braking wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Observe the speed limit: The average car reaches optimal fuel economy at around 50 mph. Fueleconomy.gov says each 5 mph over 50 is like paying an additional $0.24 at the pump.
  • Avoid hauling cargo on the roof: More drag means less efficiency. If you can, pack your cargo inside the car to increase your car's aerodynamics.
  • Don't pack more than you need: Every 100 extra pounds in your car can reduce your efficiency by 1%. That can add up over a long trip.
  • Use cruise control: Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas. 
  • Keep your tires inflated properly: Check your door jam for the PSI that is best for your car. It can save you a few cents per gallon.

Finding a cheap place to fill up is one easy way to make your trip a little bit better, but AAA has some other suggestions.

  • Be prepared: If it's been a while since you went on a road trip, AAA suggests getting an inspection to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels. 
  • Know before you go: Although COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed in most of the country, some areas still have rules that you may not be expecting. To make sure you and your family stay safe and healthy, check AAA's COVID-19 restrictions map for local rules.
  • Avoid rush-hour slowdowns: Big cities and more crowded roads can add up to a travel headache. According to AAA, it can take you more than four times as long to get through some stretches of road if you are driving through at the wrong time. If you're driving near Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle or Washington, D.C., avoiding peak travel times will save you minutes or hours.

These are the worst times and stretches of road to be traveling, according to travel analysts at AAA and INRIX:

  • Atlanta    I-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK Dr    Wed, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
  • Boston    I-93 N, Quincy Market to MA-28    Wed, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Chicago    I-290 W, Morgan St to Wolfe Rd    Wed, 2:45 – 4:45 p.m.
  • Detroit    I-96 W, 6 Mile Rd to Walled Lake    Wed, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Houston    I-10 W, Sjolander Rd to TX-330    Wed, 3:15 – 5:15 p.m.
  • Los Angeles    I-5 S, Colorado St to Florence Ave    Wed, 3:45 – 5:45 p.m.
  • New York    I-495 E, Borden Ave to Little Neck Pkwy    Wed, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • San Francisco    I-80 E, I-580 to San Pablo Dam Rd    Wed, 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Seattle    I-5 S, WA-18 to WA-7    Wed, 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Washington DC    I-95 S, I-395 to VA-123    Wed, 2 – 4 p.m.

And if you're going anywhere else, these are the best and worst times to be on the road, according to AAA and INRIX:

  • Day                 Worst Time           Best Time
  • Wednesday    12 – 8 p.m.           After 9 p.m.
  • Thursday        12 – 3 p.m.         Before 11 a.m.
  • Friday              1 – 4 p.m.          Before 11 a.m.
  • Saturday          2 – 7 p.m.          Before 12 p.m.
  • Sunday            1 – 7 p.m.          Before 12 p.m.

For everything else you need to know this Thanksgiving, check out the rest of our Thanksgiving coverage in the links below.