Rising gas prices may not curb vacation travel

Rising gas prices may not curb vacation travel

(NewsNation) —  When it comes to vacation driving and flying, the U.S. is poised for record summer. And that’s good news to the world’s biggest consortium of oil producers.

“The U.S. continues with steady momentum that may outperform the current annual growth forecast,” according to the latest announcement from OPEC.

The national average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gas could hit $4 a gallon by summer, according to AAA and JP Morgan. That would be the most expensive gas since August of 2022, when the average approached $5.

Other experts disagree: “We do not see a $4 a gallon nationwide average as a likely outcome for 2024,” said petroleum analyst Patrick De Hann of the website GasBuddy.  

Triple A’s nationwide average price for a gallon of gas stood at $3.63 on Friday. That’s 24 cents higher than one month ago, but only a penny higher than one year ago.

While the price of gas may force many to opt for a destination closer to home, budget travelers may be in the minority this year. Vacation travel demand is sky-high — with sky-high prices.

“If you thought travel was busy and expensive in 2023, 2024 is crazier than ever,” said Seattle-based travel agent Kari Mollan.

“Flights are back to pre-pandemic pricing. Europe, especially Italy, is already busy for the summer. You will need to budget $1,000 a night for anything decent and centrally located in peak tourist areas.”

She says many travelers are downsizing their air travel to make up for the higher fares: opting from “premium coach” instead of business class, taking shorter trips and flying midweek for lower fares.

Mollan also says highway traffic promises to be as busy as before the pandemic.

“National parks are fabulous — if you can get a room reservation. Flexibility is my key word for all travel. Pack your patience.”

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