As gas prices increased into Memorial Day weekend--the traditional start of the summer travel season--consumers admit those rising prices are having an effect on their summer travel plans, although perhaps not as much as one might expect.
"In recent years, we've seen rising fuel prices and airline-related concerns prompt travelers to take shorter trips," said Rand McNally editorial director Laurie Borman, in a statement. "Even so, the American tradition of the summer road trip remains strong, with three-quarters of adults at least somewhat likely to take a summer road trip in 2008."
According to a survey by Rand McNally, 75% of Americans said they are at least somewhat likely to take a road trip this year. Nearly a third of them (29%) said they were very likely to take a road trip. However, two-thirds of U.S. adults who planned to take a road trip this summer have altered their plans because of rising gas prices. According to the survey, more than half--57%--said they will shorten their trip's duration or distance. However, only 10% said they will cancel their trips altogether.
Changes in the airline industry could also have an effect on Americans' summer road trips. A quarter of the respondents said they would be more likely to take a road trip this summer if airfare costs continued to rise. (The survey was conducted before American Airlines revealed its plans to begin charging for checked baggage.)
The average length of an American's summer road trip vacation is five days, with 85% saying their trips would be a week or less. One in four adults said their road trips would take them to a lake or a beach, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, at those water destinations, boaters are expected to remain on the water. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, only 1% of 2,400 boaters surveyed said they did not plan to take their boats on the water due to the rising cost of gasoline. The survey also showed that only 3% of boaters last year opted not to take their boats out because of fuel costs.
"Rising fuel costs have certainly shifted boater habits, causing them to take shorter trips and reduce cruising speeds, but we expect boaters' passion for the lifestyle to continue to lead them to the water this summer," said NMMA president Thom Dammrick, in a statement.