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The end-of-year holidays are the biggest travel time in the U.S. Ninety-one percent of those traveling use personal vehicles, and that's a whole lot of gasoline. One gift that consumers will find in their stockings is the lowest gasoline prices in four years. Find out if your holiday travel plans include driving through one of the states with the lowest gasoline prices this season.

The 2014 holidays
AAA defines this year's holiday season -- Tuesday, Dec. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 4 -- as one day longer than last year's, and the longest since 2008. That extra day means more travelers -- an estimated 98.6 million travelers will journey more than 50 miles from their homes during those 13 days. This is a 4% jump from last year, and the highest holiday travel season since AAA began recording the data in 2001.

With 91% of travelers going by car, that means 89.5 million travelers on the roads this holiday season. Another 5.8% will be flying, which translates into 5.72 million travelers in airports this year, an increase of just 1% versus last year's 5.66 million. The remaining 3.35 million are taking other modes of transportation such as train or bus, and is up 3% from last year's 3.25 million.

Thankfully for those driving, oil prices have plummeted during the past six months as the world is experiencing a glut of oil. The excess supply is the result of three things -- continuing growth in U.S. oil production, the decision by OPEC countries (led by Saudi Arabia) not to cut their oil production in response to the price drop, and slowing consumer demand out of China. These forces have combined so that oil prices now sit at their lowest levels since the financial crisis.

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price Chart

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price data by YCharts.

This has crushed oil stocks, with major oil producers such as ExxonMobil and Chevron down by low double-digit percentages while many small independents are down far more. But the drop in gasoline prices means consumers will get an estimated 3.5% boost to their disposable incomes compared to 2013. 

US Retail Gas Price Chart

US Retail Gas Price data by YCharts.

Take a look at the long-term trend in U.S. retail gasoline prices. As of Dec. 18, the national average gasoline price for regular gasoline was $2.48, down $0.74 a gallon from last year's $3.22, a 23% drop from last year. That being said, your gasoline dollars will go further in some states than others:

The 11 States with the Lowest Gasoline Prices

 Rank

State

Price of Regular

1

Missouri

$2.15

2

Oklahoma

$2.21

3

Texas

$2.26

4

Mississippi

$2.28

5

South Carolina

$2.30

6

Kansas

$2.30

7

Ohio

$2.31

8

Indiana

$2.31

9

Tennessee

$2.31

10 (tie)

Louisiana

$2.32

10 (tie)

New Mexico

$2.32

Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Report as of Dec. 18, 2014.

While those are the 11 states with the lowest gasoline prices, many other states come close:

G

Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Report as of Dec. 18, 2014.

With the current supply glut around the world, areas closest to refineries have noticeably lower gasoline prices. This excludes California, which has the highest state gasoline taxes in the U.S., boosting their prices by $0.50 per gallon.

While I could have designed the chart to look like there are big differences in gas prices, in actuality, gasoline prices are pretty cheap all around the continental U.S.

As I pointed out before, economists expect the lower gasoline prices will mean a 3.5% jump in consumers' disposable incomes. While this is called "disposable" income, you don't need to throw it away.

The best investors treat every dollar the same. With your holiday windfall, consider saving or investing some of it so it can grow, giving you more "disposable" income for the years and decades ahead.

Dan Dzombak has no position in any stocks mentioned. Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak, on his Facebook page DanDzombak, or on his blog where he writes about investing, happiness, the secret to success in life, what is success in life, the best business books of all time, the NY Lottery, and the Fortune 500.

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