Well, here’s a flat tire just in time for road trip season: Gas prices will reach their highest in close to half a decade. Right now, the national average gas price is hovering around $2.80 a gallon, a 40 cent increase from this same time last year. But spokesperson from AAA told Axios that drivers can expect prices to go up over $3 at most gas stations across the US. Per a survey from AAA, typically, when gas prices go above $3, about two-thirds of people will begin to change their driving habits. But, for families who plan to drive long distances this Summer, changing driving habits won’t offset the sheer amount of driving they’ll have to do.
When the NYU School of Professional Studies conducted a survey about U.S. family travel in 2017, they found that 80 percent of families were “likely” or “very likely” to travel with one or multiple children in the following year. They also found that families most commonly take short vacations that only last up to a single week. As gas prices rise and people look for more ways to save money at the pump families could perhaps start electing to save more money by taking shorter trips. Overall, the price spike is likely to discourage some families from vacationing even more than they already are. In the NYU survey, 72 percent of the families that didn’t travel at all said they didn’t because they didn’t have the funds to do it.
Even though gas prices usually increase around the summer, there are a couple of specific reasons why they’ll be so much higher this year. This April, in an attempt to rebalance oil markets, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut oil production for the fifth month in a row. This creates a greater demand for oil and will allow OPEC to raise the price of a barrel of oil from a low of $30 a barrel two years ago, to the $65 it is today. This is also an attempt to comply with environmental regulations that require oil producers switch to a more costly, but a cleaner type of petroleum this summer.
The increased oil price will surely stress out the large percentage of families who already fret about taking summer road trips. According to an IPSOS survey, 57 percent of parents felt “stressed” about where they would stop while they were traveling last summer. Now, higher oil costs will only up the stress of picking a place to travel.