Road Trips Are Set to Boom This Summer. Could Rising Gas Prices Change That?

Here's why your upcoming getaway may require early planning

Road Trip

Carmen Martínez Torrón / Getty Images

Countries worldwide may be reopening borders and easing pandemic-related restrictions, but that doesn't mean the classic American road trip is going out of style. A recent survey by The Vacationer predicts that approximately 206 million Americans plan to travel by car this summer, with 47 million Americans planning a road trip over 500 miles and 17 million Americans planning a road trip over 1,000 miles away.

Yet the popularity of road trips isn't the only thing that continues to rise. National averages for gas and diesel broke records in the U.S. late last month, with the average cost of gas currently hovering over $4 per gallon. The most expensive gas markets in the country include California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, all destinations well-known for their popular road trip attractions.

While the rising gas prices can partially be attributed to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the lifting of mandates around the country has also led to more travel and a higher demand for fuel. With summer on the horizon, experts do not anticipate lower prices soon.

"It's a dire situation and won't improve any time soon," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, an app used to find lower gas prices. "The high prices are likely to stick around for not days or weeks, like they did in 2008, but months."

The American Automobile Administration (AAA) advises drivers planning a big road trip this summer to start planning sooner rather than later. Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, says getting the specifics of your upcoming trip locked in as early as possible is essential. "It's all in the planning," Twidale said in a recent interview. "I would say book early."

But will skyrocketing gas prices mean Americans will cancel their long-awaited vacation plans, or will the boom in summer road trips power through? "[Travel] will be more costly," Twidale said. "Is it enough to make people change their mind about actually taking time off enjoying the vacation? I don't think so." 

Article Sources
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  1. The Vacationer. "Summer Travel Survey 2022." April 1, 2022.

  2. AAA. "Gas Prices." Accessed April 6, 2022.

  3. AAA. "Russia-Ukraine Conflict Continues to Cause Pain at the Pump." March 7, 2022.

  4. USA Today. "Why Are Gas Prices Rising So Quickly? And How High Are They Expected to Get?" March 7, 2022.

  5. GasBuddy. "U.S. National Average Price of Gasoline Hits New All-Time Record High." March 7, 2022.

  6. USA Today. "Gas Prices Throw a Wrench Into Vacation Plans: Families Prepare for 'Costly' 2022 Travel." March 25, 2022.