Road Trips Beckon Despite Price at Pump

Yes, gas prices are up, but they’re only a fraction of the cost of a vacation. And yes, you should take one!

February 22, 2022

Taking a Summer Road Trip

By Jeff Lenard

ALEXANDRIA, Va.— In mid-February, gas prices were roughly $1 higher per gallon than a year ago. The average vehicle consumes about 500 gallons annually, so that’s another $500 in unwanted expenses. Believe it or not, it’s not too soon for people planning a summertime road trip to ask whether they should cancel their plans because of gas prices. So, should they?

The short answer is no—gas prices are only a fraction of the cost of a vacation. Let’s look at some of the math.

If your vehicle gets 25 miles per gallon, it will cost you about $4 more for every 100 miles you travel, and that’s factoring the $1 per gallon increase in gas mentioned above. If you’re taking a 600-mile road trip, it will cost you about $24 more in fuel compared to last year, which is still less than the cost of one checked bag if you were flying.

That’s not to diminish concerns about gas prices. More than two-thirds of American drivers (68%) told us four years ago that they were planning a road trip, and nearly half (43%) said high gas prices might curtail the amount of road trips they take. And certainly, there are concerns about oil prices ratcheting higher based on global politics.

On the other hand, a road trip might just be what we all need after the past two years. While pretty much everyone has a favorite vacation memory, we also know that there can be frustrating moments, even arguments. What’s the biggest cause of tension according to the NACS consumer survey? Yep, you guessed it: the kids, either fighting with each other or fidgeting and whining that all-too-familiar refrain, “Are we there yet?”

Also high on the list of what families argue about is where to stop for a break. The answer? Stop at a convenience store.

Read more about summer gas prices and which c-store you should stop at during your road trip in this month’s Convenience Corner blog post.

Jeff Lenard is the vice president, strategic industry initiatives, for NACS. He has fond memories of sliding around in the back of the family station wagon with his sister and dog, even if it was unsafe. And he can’t recall one specific incident when he argued with his sister on these trips—perhaps because of a selective memory.