The summer vacation season here and Americans are beginning to finalize their travel plans for how to make the most of their time in the sun. But the summer road trip has become more complicated, largely because of lingering concerns about inflation and gas prices throwing kinks into their plans.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 57% of American families are likely to take a vacation this summer while 69% of individuals say they are planning to take a trip.
In total, the AHLA survey found that Americans are 60% more likely to take a vacation this summer than in 2020-2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging. But even as the pandemic has somewhat stabilized, new concerns are emerging related to inflation and higher gas prices.
The AHLA survey reports that 90% of its respondents rated both inflation and gas prices as a serious consideration that impacts any travel plans. In contrast, 78% said COVID-19 rates were a factor they were considering.
Inflation in the US has risen to levels not seen in decades after demand roared back as COVID-19 eased, but supply chains have failed to keep up. At the same time, shutdowns in China, the war in Ukraine and a national labor shortage have exasperated the picture further.
Gas prices in particular have presented a major snag for would-be vacationers. About 57% of Americans who answered the AHLA survey said they would take fewer trips due to gas prices and 54% said they would take shorter ones. About one in three responders that they would cancel their plans altogether with no plans to reschedule them.
Energy prices, propelled primarily by surging gas costs, have been one of the driving forces behind the higher inflation bearing down on Americans. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average price for a gallon of gas hit a new high of $4.67 on Wednesday, but it is well over $5 dollars in some parts of the country.
For those traveling by air, a number of airlines have announced more flight routes in anticipation of what they expect to be a surge in traveling after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. For international travelers, the dollar has strengthened against even competing currencies like the British pound sterling and the Euro, granting Americans greater purchasing power abroad.