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Gas Prices Costing Travel Plans

Posted May 3rd, 2012
by Staff Writers

Over the last year gas prices have surged up and down like a roller coaster — minus the enjoyment factor. A survey conducted in March asked gas consumers whether gas prices had caused them to reconsider or alter their vacation and travel plans for 2012.


Gas and Travel

Since last year, the price of gas has risen to a staggering $4.00+ per gallon across the nation. Yet since then, gas prices have declined significantly. Reports show that just this past week, prices have gone down overall about a nickel. The national average is currently $3.80, with the high gas prices primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, and the other Northeastern states. This drop in gas prices has impacted the political world as well. Candidates Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have repeatedly blamed the other party for the high gas prices, but as of yet, neither has discovered the opportunity to accept the glory for the recent decline. Even though prices are lower than they were last year, the question of summer travel plans is still on the table; will travel plans be affected by the high prices? The survey taken in March revealed that more than half the 2,500 Americans questioned would change their travel plans if gas rose 26 cents. Since gas prices are declining, however, just a mere 3% still intend to change their travel plans given the current price of gas.


Top Travel Methods

Presuming Americans are not concerned with the high-but-declining-gas-prices, road trips may be on the agenda. Yahoo submitted a list of the top 10 road trips; something that travelers may have missed out on last year. Among the destinations listed were Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, and South Dakota. The only problem with this particular set of states is that all but three of them have the highest gas prices in the nation. This could put a damper on those wanting to save on travel expenses but apparently the trip is worth the extra cents per gallon.

If the gas prices turn you off from planning a car trip, air travel would be your natural second choice. Recent reports indicate the recovery of airlines, though the nation’s top 25 airports lost 4% of their nonstop domestic flights, meaning that flying shorter distances will require minor strategizing in order to save time and money. Furthermore, gas prices have impacted airfares more than it has the cost of driving. A comparison conducted by the Car Care Council found that a family of four traveling 1,000 miles by air would cost about $1,441 (not including checked baggage, transportation to/from the airport or parking) whereas by road, the cost would be about $350 for gas. And who doesn’t prefer the comfort and space of your own vehicle over the lousy economy seats next to the screaming kid?

For those needing to cut costs as much as possible, a Do-It-Yourself vacation is a popular alternative to a costly road trip or flight. Also known as a “staycation,” these DIY vacations are becoming increasingly popular following the severe economic decline, job losses, and soaring gas prices. Staycations require advance planning and a little ingenuity but can be highly entertaining and relaxing, primarily because each family member can contribute to the event planning and because all the pre-vacation stress is eliminated. A typical staycation involves planning events and activities for each day of your vacation time off. For example, you might have a movie marathon on Monday, take a trip to the local museum on free-admission Tuesday, go rock climbing on half-off Wednesday, have a ‘picnic at the park’ on Thursday, waterpark on Friday, rock concert on Saturday, and visit the zoo on Sunday. The best part about staycations is that you get the feeling of “splurging” even though you’re potentially saving hundreds. Who needs to spend the money on a trip to Cancun when you can enjoy the sun and water close to home?


Cheap Travel Tips

Regardless of how you intend to travel for your summer vacation and where you intend to go, there are a few reminders for ways to be frugal in 2012.

  1. Buy on Tuesday – Major airlines typically begin sales on Monday and by the next day, other airlines usually have matched their rates. Also, plan to reserve your tickets up to four months in advance as that is when airlines generally begin to evaluate which routes may need a sale to fill seats.
  2. Coupons – Almost every single travel site includes a promotion code or coupon code option during check out. Before making an online purchase, do a quick search for any available coupons and add them. Typical coupons include car rentals, hotel and flight deals, and more.
  3. Week Before or After – The best way to cut travel expenses is to take your vacation either a week before or a week after major holidays if possible. This can save you up to $1,000 on tickets and vacation packages. Plus, the airport and roadway traffic is significantly decreased when traveling off-holiday.
  4. Priceline – If you know in advance where you are vacationing, consider using Priceline to get the best deal on hotels. You select an area that you would like to stay at and bid on a room. Priceline shows the best matches and orders them based on quality and location. You may not end up with a beach-front stay, but you can easily save up to $200 or more for a good quality hotel.

For additional ways to save on traveling, check out the New York Times’ article here.

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