Rising gas prices have put a crimp in travel plans this summer as more Americans are planning staycations instead of hitting the road, according to GasBuddy’s 2018 Summer Travel survey.
GasBuddy reported in a release that the annual survey showed only 58% of participants said they will take a road trip this summer, a 24% decrease from last year, while 39% cited high gas prices for impacting their summer travel decisions, compared to 19% in 2017.
The decrease in motorist’s appetite to hit the road comes at a time when the national average gasoline price is at its highest point since November 2014 due to a recent rally in oil prices because of long-term OPEC production cuts, the U.S. exiting the Iran nuclear deal, declining U.S. oil inventories and high demand. Gas prices are expected to hit $2.95 per gallon on Memorial Day, a 65-cent increase over Memorial Day last year, costing motorists $1 billion more from Thursday to Monday alone.
The impact of high gas prices will be felt well beyond Memorial Day.
“With refineries now well positioned for the summer months, we may see some relief in mid-June, but expect this summer to remain the priciest since 2014 with a strong likelihood of the national average hitting the psychological $3 per gallon barrier sometime this summer should we see any unexpected outages or geopolitical tensions flare,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
Highlights from the survey include:
• Trips closer to home. Americans who are taking a road trip this summer aren’t covering as much ground. Only 31% will be driving more than 500 miles round trip, compared to 56% in 2017.
• Less time away. Twenty-five percent fewer people plan to take trips longer than one week this summer compared to last year, while weekend trips are up 17%.
• Overpaying for gasoline No. 1 road trip fear. With higher gas prices this summer, the number one road trip fear is overpaying at the pump, followed by the car breaking down and needing to use a restroom but unsure of which gas stations have clean facilities.
• When deciding where to stop, travelers care about convenience and price. The top 3 factors when choosing a pit stop include: (1) convenient location, (2) gas prices and (3) curb appeal.