County residents watching fuel prices as they plan vacations

5 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Late last year, Mary Hayes and her family delayed a winter break road trip to visit several historic sites in Boston, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., after the 35-day-long federal government shutdown.

Hayes said that she was especially excited to take her grandsons to visit capital museums and monuments, but the shutdown affected staffing and hours of operation.

“We decided it would be better to wait until this summer,” she explained Monday. “We were looking to go next month, but now the cost of gasoline seems to be creeping up again. That may impact the trip.”

According to AAA Northern New England, more than 2.54 million New England residents are expected to travel over Independence Day, an all-time travel record for the holiday for the eighth straight year. Travel is expected to increase by 4.5 percent compared to the 2018 July Fourth holiday. 

The organization attributes this increase to continued consumer confidence amid lower unemployment and increased discretionary income.

Nationally, the average price of gas is $2.72 per gallon, a decrease of 14 cents from the previous year. 

In Maine, however, the average current price is $2.68 per gallon, which is 5 cents higher than one week ago and 10 cents higher than a month ago. At the same time, it is 17 cents lower than one year ago.

 New Hampshire’s average current price is $2.61 per gallon, which is 6 cents higher than one week ago, 9 cents lower than a month ago, and 21 cents lower than one year ago. 

Vermont’s average current price is $2.70 per gallon, which is the same price as one week ago, 9 cents lower than a month ago, and 22 cents lower than one year ago.

Jack Leary of Presque Isle also is watching changes at the fuel pump, as he and his wife enjoy taking “a number of trips each summer” in their recreational vehicle. 

At this point, he said, they are not planning to cancel any trips, but he said that they are considering rerouting some of them to save money.

“It doesn’t seem that prices are jumping that high, but the costs add up for a couple like us who pull their fifth wheel [RV] behind their pickup truck,” he said. “Fuel costs can skyrocket quickly.”

Hayes said on Monday she and her family members are adopting a “wait and see” approach as they plan their trip.

“If prices continue to go up, we likely will just not visit as many historical sites as we had originally planned to,” she said. “I hope that doesn’t happen, but you can never tell with the economy.”