By Keith Still
Every time the price of oil spikes, it seems, stories start popping up about how gas prices may scare travelers into staying home. Or how this travel season’s hottest trend will be the “staycation.” There’s good reason for the predictability of those news reports, though, because high fuel prices do affect travelers’ plans in a pretty predictable way.
The most dramatic way, perhaps, is that skyrocketing costs at the pumps can be the deciding factor for some travelers, actually keeping them home altogether. Those who do venture out of town may change their plans – opt for a shorter trip; stay in a cheaper hotel; eat out less/choose less pricey restaurants while on vacation; or spend fewer dollars on souvenirs and entertainment. People talk about oil being a limited natural resource, but for many of us, cold, hard cash is our most scarce commodity.
The bad thing about high fuel costs is that they’re difficult to escape. Don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars filling up the family truckster to drive to Wally World? Well, expensive oil means the price of hopping a plane is going to cost more too. (If you’re heading abroad, it has gotten really expensive, as fuel surcharges alone on a round-trip ticket to Europe have passed $400, a FareCompare.com rep said in the report above.) Add to that the number of flight reductions (because of oil), and the possibility of getting away for a little rest and relaxation anywhere in the coming weeks or months can seem daunting.
So what’s a traveler to do? Obviously, now is the time to keep a sharp eye out for a good deal. While the “good” part of the deal may be in the eye of the beholder, recent history has shown that the travel industry will try to lure oil-shocked travelers to their resorts and attractions with all sorts of bargains. Whether it’s a gas card to reward you for making the trip, or reduced rates on lodging to lure you away from home, it is possible overcome the panic at the petrol pump and still get away for a vacation.
So, how will rising gas prices affect your travel plans? Will you stay home? Look out for deals? Cut back on the time or money you spend while you’re away? Or take the exact trip you wanted and worry about the prices later?
Where do you go to look for travel deals? How good does a deal have to be to you to offset rising fuel costs? At what point does the price of fuel become too high for you to travel?