Americans still planning summer road trips despite gas prices

·2-min read

Americans still plan to take summer road trips this year, despite record prices at the pump. A new study shows that almost half of those surveyed plan to vacation by car in the next six months. Meanwhile, the national average for fuel prices according to AAA is at $4.97 per gallon.

The study, conducted by consulting firm AutoPacific, polled 644 individuals in May, asking whether they plan to take a road trip or driving vacation in the next six months. Of those respondents, 49% answered that the fuel prices did not change their plans to do so, and an additional 16% said they were considering one.

"People are traveling again," said AutoPacific president and chief analyst Ed Kim. "As COVID restrictions continue to wind down throughout the U.S., consumers are ready to get out into the world again and road trips are a great way to ease back into it."

While the trips will go on, they may be slightly modified, in keeping with analysts' predictions of wavering demand. Of those who said they would travel by car, 9% said they would cut the distance traveled, and 8% responding that they would delay the trip until gas prices come down. 4% said that they would change their plans if they could, but they can't. Only 2% said the recent increase in prices would cancel their plans.

Some cited alternative means of transportation. For example, 7% said they would consider flying instead, although with the recent spike in air ticket prices it may not be more cost effective to do so. Just 2% said they would rent a more fuel efficient car for their trip.

At the time the survey was taken, the national average for fuel was $4.60 per gallon for regular (AutoPacific's respondents reported paying $4.58). So the survey also asked what vacationers would do if fuel increased by $1.50 per gallon from that number. 38% said that it would have no effect on their plans, while 46 percent said they'd be less willing. Just 16% said that such an increase would cancel their road trips. We're getting there, as the national average has increased $0.37 since then.

Just two weeks ago, a similar survey found that 82% of travelers still planned a road trip over the Memorial Day long weekend.

“Consumers have a threshold, and many are already stretched to the limit with current gas prices, but the desire to travel outweighs the financial concerns for many,” said Kim.

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