Higher gas prices not keeping drivers off WNC roads this holiday season

With many schools out for the holidays, traffic is building across the mountains. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

With many schools out for the holidays, traffic is building across the mountains.

A record number of travelers are expected to drive this holiday season, despite higher gas prices. And more cars on the roads mean more traffic and frustrations.

Experts at AAA suggest drivers leave early in the morning to avoid the rush, or after the morning commute, because roads are less crowded then.

But no matter what day or time you leave, expect to find higher gas prices at the pump.

"We are going to visit with family and possibly go to Dollywood and show the boys fake snow," said the Howells, who a couple hours from their holiday vacation destination in Pigeon Forge.

The family is just one of the millions expected to hit the road this week.

"We are from the mountains, and we see the mountains all the time," holiday traveler Carol Stohl said. "And what we hear there is everybody who lives there wants to go to the mountains,"

Across North Carolina, the average gas price is $2.31 a gallon. That's the higher than last year when prices sat at $2.18 a gallon. The average price in Asheville is $2.44 a gallon for unleaded.

Joel Howell said, during his drive, he looks around for gas deals.

"We haven't been filling up right on the interstate or anything because it's usually more expensive," Howell said.

A record-breaking 4.5 million Carolinians plan to travel during the year-end holiday season this year. Stohl and her husband live in Pigeon Forge, but they were headed to Myrtle Beach for an early holiday getaway.

"We start saving, and we save until we've got our cash and just go," Stohl said.

To handle the stress of traffic and the increase travelers on the road, AAA suggests drivers map out their routes in advance, know who to call in case of emergencies and check their vehicles before they leave.

"I service the vehicle before I go, and, since I was coming up here and didn't know what the weather would be like, I packed a bag with water and blankets and stuff," Howell said.

Click here to find the lowest gas prices in the area.

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