RICE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Brace yourself for a summer of sticker shock at the pump. Rising oil prices are expected to translate into higher gas prices. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller hit the road to see how gas prices are expected to impact travel for Memorial Day and the summer travel season.
A wet spring after a long, cold winter has many of us thinking one thing: road trip. “Everybody is ready to get out and have some fun and vacation and do some sun things so I think Memorial Day is just a great kickoff for that,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Member Services Specialist Carol Rosser.
But this Memorial Day weekend is different than the past few. Gas prices are at their highest level since November 2014. Ms. Rosser said, “Our national average is $2.93 a gallon I believe and our average here in Wilkes-Barre and Pennsylvania is $3.09.”
Despite that, AAA says almost 42 million Americans will travel this holiday weekend including nearly 37 million by car. That’s about a five percent increase from last Memorial Day and the highest level since 2005.
“I see Pennsylvania is $3.09,” said Jean Lavelle while taking a break at the Dorrance Rest Stop in Luzerne County. The Endicott, NY woman is concerned the cost of gas this summer could curtail her number of trips to Virginia where she’s spending this Memorial Day weekend. “If they get any higher, yeah. I mean I have family there so, but still I’m retired and prices are very high.”
Floyd Knight of Annville, Lebanon County faces more financial frustration fueling-up for work than for fun. “The vacation… I’m going to do that anyway. It doesn’t matter what the gas prices are.” Ms. Rosser added, “If you’re planning a vacation, you’re going to plan all of the costs and, of course, gas is one part of that.”
Ms. Rosser said one strategy vacationers might use this summer is to still take the vacation but just spend shorter time at their destination. “It’s easier to handle. It’s easier to get the time off. It’s easier to have the family vacation and get a little bit of fun in there and still feel like you’ve gone away.” And not break the bank after filling up the tank.
GasBuddy’s 2018 Summer Travel survey finds just 58 percent plan to take a road trip this summer which is down 24 percent from last year. 39 percent cite high gas prices for impacting their summer travel decisions compared to only 19 percent last year.