Summer travel plans clouded by 'increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump': survey

Nearly two-thirds of those intending to take summer road trips report holding back from making final travel plans, citing uncertainties caused by skyrocketing fuel prices.

Updated: May 22, 2022 - 11:02pm

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The approach of Memorial Day and the start of the summer travel season finds Americans eager to renew their interrupted love affair with the open roads — but large majorities report they are holding back from making final trip plans, citing uncertainties created by skyrocketing fuel costs, according to a recent survey from the tech company GasBuddy.

"Against a backdrop of gas prices that have continued to set new records ahead of Memorial Day, Americans have been resilient in their desire to hit the road, but we're certainly seeing increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump,” Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said in a statement.

"Soaring inflation has led to uncertainty over rising costs," De Haan added. "The COVID factor is still present, but has been dwarfed this year by Americans' concern over high gas prices and dwindling affordable travel options to make use of the best months of the year."

About 58% of Americans intend to have road trips in the summer months, but nearly two-thirds have yet to finalize their plans, according to the survey. Almost 40% of those surveyed reported that the high level of inhalation has caused difficulty in their trip plans, and a whopping 70% said their summer travel plans have been affected by high gas prices.

Slightly less than two-thirds of Americans intend to take just one or two road trips during the summer. Memorial Day Weekend is the most popular travel weekend this year, with Independence Day and Labor Day being second and third, according to the survey.

While the percentage of Americans planning to travel this summer is up compared to last year, when pandemic fears continued to shadow vacation-planning, the Virginia tourism industry is concerned that the steady increase of gas prices could cause new issues.

Robert Melvin, the director of government affairs at the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, told The Center Square that summer travel is important to the state's tourism industry, with many people going to beaches, to the peninsula and to Williamsburg.

However, Melvin said the high gas prices are a concern because the commonwealth has been more of a driving tourism market than a flying tourism market in recent years. With gas prices continuing to rise to record highs, and the possibility that they could soon reach $5 per gallon, he said this will harm the middle class. Even those who take trips, he said, may drive shorter distances or cut back on the number of travel days.

The Virginia tourism industry is "potentially looking at a very bad situation here with ever increasing gas prices," Melvin added.

According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas is more than $4.59 per gallon. The cost for a gallon of gas in the commonwealth is slightly lower at slightly more than $4.46. It is significantly higher than one year ago when the national average was about $3.04 and the Virginia average was nearly $2.95.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to temporarily suspend the gas tax during the summer months to alleviate costs. However, Democratic lawmakers blocked those attempts.