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Gas Prices, the Economy, and Vacation Plans

Written by Nickel - 14 Comments

By the time you read this, we’ll be well on our way to a lengthy family vacation. With all the news about a bad economy and ever-increasing gas prices, I can’t help but wonder what sort of impact this is all having on vacation plans this summer. For our part, we found a great deal on flights this past winter and locked in low fares before they started rising.

Of course, in addition to the airfares (six of ‘em!), we also have to rent a car at our destination, so this definitely isn’t the cheapest way to go. That being said, it’s about 1100 miles each way, so flying instead of driving (which we’ve always done in the past) buys us a few extra days of actual vacation. Well worth it in my book.

The fact that we’re flying also creates an odd sort of silver lining inside the cloud of rising gas prices… The higher the price at the pump, the less of a premium we’re paying to fly. But I digress. Bringing it back to the topic at hand…

Have you modified your summer travel plans in response to high energy prices?

Published on June 19th, 2008 - 14 Comments
Filed under: Energy, Travel

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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14 Responses to “Gas Prices, the Economy, and Vacation Plans”

  1. 1
    Matt Says:

    Not really this year, but my fiance and I have a modest budget for a honeymoon in August of 2009 and we’ve already had to cancel our planned two-week cross country road trip because of gas prices (can’t afford it now and who knows what it’ll be next year). Anyone have any cheap honeymoon ideas? :-)

  2. 2
    NCN Says:

    Have a great trip! Be safe…

    And, yes, we did modify our plans. We actually went on our ’summer’ vacation in May, b/c we figured gas prices will be much higher in July and August. We shall see…

  3. 3
    justatron Says:

    My wife has already had a vacation with her mom and sister up to Niagara Falls, so I am thinking of taking a weekend to visit a college friend in Williamsburg, VA. When I go, I plan on going Amtrak vs. driving. It will cost me $100 round trip versus $75 for gas, not counting wear and tear on my already high mileage car. Couple that with being able to read or sleep or whatever as I travel, which will take just as long as driving, and the train is the way to go for me. The wife and I are also planning a trip to Washington DC in the fall and will probably use the train versus driving and parking in DC for a week as well.

  4. 4
    Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    Nope. Haven’t changed a thing. We’re driving out to Yellowstone National Park next week (26 hours in the minivan) and plan to spend time with our kids whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking, and seeing the sights.

    On the way back, we’re stopping in Rapid City, SD to see Mt Rushmore and the fireworks display on the 4th of July.

    I considered flying, but we would have to
    A. Pay for 5 tickets at $500+ each.
    B. Rent a car at $400+ for the two weeks.
    C. Gas up the rental car anyway.

    Driving will cost me between $950 and $1200 in fuel. I’m still coming out ahead vs flying. The van is only 2 years old and has relatively low mileage.

    The hotels are all free since I used my points from being away from home 75% of the time this year.

    We’re gonna have a great time!

  5. 5
    Anitra Says:

    Not really. We’re taking a weekend road trip to NYC in July (about a 3-4 hour drive). We’ll be cramming 5 adults into a PT Cruiser, the largest car any of us own…. if the price of gas wasn’t so high, we MIGHT have taken two cars instead, but probably not. For five people, it’s definitely less expensive than taking a train or bus. I suppose we could rent a mini-van or SUV, but that would be a big upgrade in price for a pretty small upgrade in comfort.

  6. 6
    KC Says:

    We haven’t modified our plans at all. But we’ve had spending under control for most of our adult lives and we’re just using more of our salary that would normally go in the bank. Instead of saving 50% of our salary, we’re saving about 40% due to increases in fuel and food prices. But to me that’s the importance of living beneath your means – you have a lot more leg room to continue to stretch out even when times are bad for others.

  7. 7
    "Mo" Money Says:

    We haven’t changed our plans. Even though our plans are simple, we still plan to go where we had planned in Jan.

  8. 8
    kitty Says:

    Nope. I made reservations a couple of months ago, and air tickets are non-refundable; prices are all set. I can cancel the cruise until September, hotel – until a couple of days before. No reason to change plans except for major emergency, in which case I guess I’ll lose money.

    I am going on a trans-atlantic cruise in December with a couple of friends, and got some really good deals: air NYC-Rome – $414, a couple of days in Rome, nice small central hotel but nothing too fancy – 80 euro per day for a single room, cruise Rome-San Juan – $1500 total – would be half of that if I had someone to share the cabin with, San-Juan – NYC – $144. Comes up to a little over $2000, but I figure with all other expenses, such as excursions and tips, it’ll be around $3000-3500. This is consistent with what I normally pay for vacation – a bit on a high side, but I only take one vacation this year instead of two.

    For the rest of my vacation days – I have 5 weeks total – I’ll just stay at home: this is a nice area.

    I am like KC – I’ve had spending under control my whole life, never had consumer debt. I am not even sure I am saving that much less now: for example, the gas cost is higher, but now I car pool and work some days from home. There are similar trade-offs with other items.

  9. 9
    Jeff Frese Says:

    I’ve modified everything I do because of gas prices. At $90 per fill up ( it’s a Volvo with a big tank and I live in Manhattan) now I don’t even fill the tank all the way. I feel like a loser in high school stopping before the tank is full. I won’t be going to the Jersey Shore as much this summer because of the gas prices, inflation in general and the overall economy.

  10. 10
    KC Says:

    Jeff – I don’t fill up either. I have an 18 gallon tank and a car the requires premium. I live in a major city, but don’t drive that much. Only time I fill the tank is when I’m going out of town (and even then I’ll wait until I get to the next state cause the gas is a bit cheaper). But I feel it is stupid to be driving around with $65-$70 in my car when I only need about $20/week. So I just stop at the gas station on Sat or Sunday and put in $20-$25 for the week.

  11. 11
    Carolyn Says:

    We have definitely modified our plans. We started the year thinking we would take a week and drive to DC and Virginia Beach, then that got changed to maybe spending a couple days down at Mamouth Caves in Kentucky. Now I think we are staying home and maybe, MAYBE doing a day trip or two. I’m a single mom trying to tackle some debt, and the thought of spending $200 or more on a hotel room, gas and food for even 1 night away makes my stomach churn at this point. Maybe next year…..

  12. 12
    Cindy at Financial Tips Says:

    I never plan a vacation. :) But, when I do travel, it’s always across country to see family and always by plane. Problem is I’m hit either way, because to get manageable fares in the first place, I always travel to an international airport instead of using my regional. The more gas goes up, the less I save on fares by going to the other airport, which means I’ll lose the ability to fly at all… because fares from home are too outrageous anyway; and going 3000 by car at this point is pointless too.. :(

  13. 13
    Frugal Mom LA Says:

    If I take a trip to the Grand Canyon (from LA), I’m going to go by Amtrak to Williams Junction, AZ and then take the Grand Canyon Railway into the Park. It might cost less to take my minivan but the wear and tear, the principle of spending money on gas, and the reduced stress of not having to spend 6-8 hours in the car with young children strapped in cars makes the train a better alternative in my opinion!

  14. 14
    Amy Says:

    Our plans have not changed but since we are driving over 1500 miles round trip I signed up for the 5% cash back on gas purchases in July – Sept. on our Discover card. We don’t usually charge gas but 5% cash back is a good reason to do it.

    Last year we had 3 expensive vacations so this year we planned to scale back anyway. We’ll be staying with friends and family and camping for the 9 days we are gone.

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