August 10, 2021

New Delta Variant and Record-Breaking Gas Prices Cause Some Drivers to Reroute Plans for Remaining Summer Travel

Spike in demand and data from GasBuddy's Midsummer Travel Survey
reveal though people are buying more gas, they may be staying closer to home

Summer travel has hit a roadblock this year, but not in the amount of people driving. It’s in the distance people are willing to go. GasBuddy has released the results of its first ever Midsummer Travel Survey, revealing that 10 percent fewer Americans are now planning to take a road trip this summer than were in May. Yet, demand for gasoline last week hit the highest level of 2021, according to Pay with GasBuddy transaction data.

So what gives? While the recent spike in demand shows that Americans are still determined to get out this summer, wavering confidence in road trips says people might be worried about budgeting for high gas prices and seeking adventures closer to home.

How Gas Prices Are Impacting Americans' Decision to Travel

In early May, 57 percent of Americans were planning to take a road trip, according to GasBuddy’s 2021 summer travel survey. Since then, gas prices have risen to a seven-year high, a new variant of Covid-19 has spread throughout the country and a pipeline shutdown brought gasoline shortages to the Southeast. Today, only 46 percent have or are still planning to hit the road.

Gas prices have been steadily climbing since early November to prices we haven’t seen since 2014, with a national average of $3.14 per gallon. Fifty percent of Americans now say high gas prices are deterring them from taking a road trip, up from 46 percent in May.

Percent of American Taking Fewer Road Trips Due to Covid-19

“With new Covid cases rising and gasoline prices at their highest level since 2014, some motorists appear to be re-thinking their summer travel plans,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “However, while some may be trimming summer road trips, demand for gasoline remains strong across the country, with GasBuddy data showing that last week’s consumption reached a 2021 high, topping the busy July 4 holiday weekend. That will keep prices from falling much even as Covid anxiety rises.”

The spreading Covid-19 Delta variant may not keep people from driving, but it is affecting Americans’ decision to take road trips. The percentage of people who are taking less road trips due to Covid-19 concerns increased from 22 percent to 28 percent from May to July.

The GasBuddy Midsummer Travel Survey was completed by 2,409 GasBuddy members between July 15 - July 19, 2020. Summer travel is defined as the period between May 31 - Sept. 6, 2021 (Memorial Day through Labor Day).

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