Gas Prices Could Curtail Summer Travel Plans

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STATE – As gasoline prices climb towards the $4 mark, it seems likely that Americans may cut back on summer travel plans.

“The skyrocketing cost of motor fuels could very well cast a shadow on the summer vacation plans of a sizeable number of American families and transform frequent fliers into frugal travelers,” said Tracy E. Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As was the case in 2008, the cost of gas may cause some people to altogether alter or cancel their vacation plans. Some people have planned ahead and already locked in their vacation plans, and they are likely to keep them.”

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Already this spring, a half dozen states and the District of Columbia now average $4 or more for a gallon of regular gasoline. During 2008 the combination of the high cost of fuel, the onset of the recession and the subsequent economic downturn caused Americans to drive, travel and fly far less during the year, and eroded the discretionary income that many Americans would have spent on travel, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index (LTI) at the time.

That year the nation and the travel industry witnessed a drastic decline in the number of Americans traveling for all five of the major travel holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas), according to year-to-year travel forecasts from AAA.

From coast to coast, the cost of gasoline peaked at $4.11 on July 17, 2008. That is still the highest recorded average price of a gallon. Similarly, the cost of a gallon of diesel fuel reached its highest ever recorded price that same day, cresting at $4.85 per gallon.

Nationwide, pump prices are nearly a dollar higher (98 cents, to be exact) than this time last year, according to the latest Daily Fuel Gauge Report from AAA Mid-Atlantic. Inauspiciously, gasoline prices are also “93 cents a gallon above the spring/summer peak of one year ago, when gasoline rose to $2.93 per gallon on May 6,” according to an oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), which provides daily fuel prices data to AAA.

As in 2008, AAA believes that many cost-conscious travelers will try to offset the soaring cost of fuel and the rising airline ticket prices by choosing to stay in less expensive hotels, by dining in reasonably priced restaurants, and by traveling closer to home this summer.


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