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AAA: Higher Gas Prices Have Americans Considering ​Traveling Closer to Home in Summer 2017

A sign in front of Lucky's Auto, Shippensburg, Pa., in 2012.
A sign in front of Lucky's Auto, Shippensburg, Pa., in 2012.

More than 60 percent of Americans say they will consider traveling closer to home this summer if gas prices increase above current levels, according to a new AAA survey.

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AAA projects the national average for a gallon of gasoline will peak near $2.70 this summer – a 40 cent increase from current levels and a 75 cent increase from last year.

Record number of tourists come to Myrtle Beach in 2016.

“With gas prices steadily increasing, we will see more people traveling close to home this summer,” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons. “With families traveling close to home, domestic national parks and theme parks are the most desired travel destinations this year.”

The Carolinas are already seeing higher gas prices than this time last year. Currently, South Carolina’s average price of gas is sitting at $2.02, which is $0.16 more than last year. North Carolina’s state wide average is $2.18, an increase of $0.21 from last year.

The price at the pump will also impact day-to-day choices for Americans. More than 70 percent say they would make everyday lifestyle or driving habit changes to offset an increase in gas prices. The survey found the top five changes drivers would make include:

Combining errands or trips

Driving less

Reducing shopping or dining out

Delaying major purchases


However, not everyone will jump to make a change. The survey found, younger Americans (18-34) are more tolerant of higher prices and less likely to change habits compared to older consumers (35 and older).

During April, Americans across the country will start to see gas prices begin to climb as the industry makes the switchover to summer-blend gasoline. Over the years, public opinion for whether a gallon of gasoline is too high or too low has fluctuated as much as the price itself.

When gas prices are above the $3.00 benchmark (as they were in 2013 and 2014), Americans believe prices should be six percent lower.

When gas prices are below the $3.00 benchmark (as they were in 2015 and 2016), Americans believe a 25 percent increase is too high.

As many as 90 percent of visitors to Myrtle Beach drive here on any given holiday.

This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), which, when combined, consists of 1,017 adults, 510 men and 507 women, 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was completed on February 2-5, 2017. 517 interviews were from the landline sample and 500 interviews from the cell phone sample. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.