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.
According to the annual survey, only 58 percent said they will take a road trip this summer, a 24 percent decrease from last year, while 39 percent cited high gas prices for impacting their summer travel decisions, compared to 19 percent 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 an average of $2.95 per gallon nationwide 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.
Americans who are taking a road trip this summer aren’t covering as much ground. Only 31 percent will be driving more than 500 miles round trip, compared to 56 percent in 2017. 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 percent.
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 three factors when choosing a pit stop include convenient location, gas prices and curb appeal.
The GasBuddy Summer Travel Survey was issued to more than 17,000 GasBuddy members from April 27 through May 3.
GasBuddy is a smartphone app connecting drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop. GasBuddy is the leader in crowdsourced information to help drivers find the best gas prices, closest stations, friendliest service, cleanest restrooms, tastiest coffee and much more. GasBuddy is the leading source for the most accurate, real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations in the U.S, Canada and Australia.