Cheap gas means you should be planning your summer road trip right now (like me!)

(Bob Sullivan)
(Bob Sullivan)

Time to break out the old nationwide atlas road map — it’s going to be a great summer for road trips, thanks to low gas prices. You might want to splurge on an app or GPS with up-to-date traffic information, too, because lots of other families will have the same idea.

Gas prices are about $1 a gallon lower for most drivers as the summer vacation season approaches, a better-than 25% discount over last year. If you’ve fantasized about hitting the open road and seeing America’s great national parks, cheap gas could help make those dreams come true. For example, when I drove from New York to Seattle last year with my golden retriever Rusty, I spent $492 on gas. The same trip this year would cost closer to $350 — a huge difference.

(This story first appeared on Read it there.)

AAA says that difference is certain to send more drivers onto America’s highways. Road traffic for the Memorial Day holiday were up 5.3% this year, AAA estimated, soaring to 33 million road-trippers — the most in 10 years. Gas will be the cheapest in at least five years, AAA says.

“Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip-flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President, in a statement. “AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.”

Drivers might understandably be apprehensive that gas prices will rise during the road-trip season, as they often do. And in fact prices have ticked up since they hit bottom this March. But the Energy Department said this week that it expects average prices to hover roughly around $2.50 through September. That’s assuming no surprise shocks to supply, such as a terrible storm.

The cheapest gas starts is in the southeast, by the way, in states like South Carolina — extending all the way through Missouri to Kansas, Wyoming, and into Idaho. So if you are wondering where to go, that’s not a bad place to start.

Not all the road trip news is good, however. AAA expects hotel prices to be considerably higher this summer, thanks to the economic recovery.  The average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16% higher this year at $144, AAA says. So maybe it’s time to take that gas savings and invest in some camping gear.


About Bob Sullivan 1452 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.