Gas Prices Rise, Summer Travel Plans Plunge

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You already know you’re paying more for gas at the pump. What you want to know is when the price hikes will stop. For the immediate future, the answer is “not yet.”

The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose nearly five cents last week to start the new week at $2.93. Month over month, the price is up more than 14 cents a gallon, and it is more than 56 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.763, while the year-ago average was $2.362.

The sharp price increases of the past several weeks have changed many travelers’ minds about summer road trips. According to GasBuddy’s 2018 Summer Travel survey, just 58% of Americans say they are planning a road trip this summer, down from 82% last summer. Nearly four in 10 (39%) cite high gas prices as the reason for making other plans.

Gas prices are expected to hit $2.95 a gallon on Memorial Day, a 65-cent increase over Memorial Day last year, costing motorists $1 billion more from Thursday to Monday alone. Last summer, gas cost an average of $2.30 a gallon, down from $2.33 in 2016 and the lowest price since 2008.

GasBuddy’s chief petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan, commented:

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.

Only 31% of Americans plan to travel more than 500 miles round trip this summer, compared to 56% last summer. Only a quarter of Americans plan to take a trip longer than one week this summer, although more weekend trips (17%) are on the agenda.