Higher Gas Prices Won't Spoil Summer Vacation Plans

by Joseph Carroll

Of those whose plans have changed, most will shorten trip, choose different destination

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Even though gas prices across the country are soaring, a recent Gallup Panel poll finds that a strong majority of Americans with summer vacation plans will not alter those plans as a result of increasing costs at the fuel pumps. Of those whose summer vacation plans have changed due to rising gas prices, most say they will change their destination or take a shorter trip. The poll also finds a solid majority of American workers do not plan to adjust their commute, such as by taking mass transit, carpooling, or moving closer to work, in order to save money on gas. Workers are most inclined to say they would carpool to work, but less than one in three workers are likely to do this.

Most Americans are feeling the effects of the recent rise in gas prices, though few appear to be struggling because of it. According to the May 21-24, 2007, poll, 18% of Americans say gas prices have created a hardship for their families; an additional 49% say gas prices have caused them to adjust their usual spending and saving habits in significant ways. Only about one in three Americans (33%) say gas prices have not had much impact on their financial situation.

Summer Vacation Plans

The poll included questions designed to find out if the increase in gas prices has affected Americans' summer vacation plans.

So far, Americans are not letting the high price of gas stop them from getting away this summer. Overall, just about half of Americans (52%) plan to take a vacation this summer, roughly the same percentage that planned to take a vacation last year. It is important to note that those who had no plans for taking a summer vacation were not asked why, so it is not possible to conclude if this behavior reflects rising energy costs or not.

Gallup asked the 52% of Americans with summer vacation plans if the higher price of gasoline has caused them to change their vacation plans, and in exactly what ways they have changed their plans. 

The results suggest higher gas prices are not causing Americans to change their vacation plans -- at least not at this point. Among those who say they are planning to take a vacation this summer, just 29% say their plans have changed due to the higher price of gasoline, while 71% say their plans have not changed. This is essentially the same result that Gallup measured at this time last year.

And, among those who have changed their summer vacation plans due to higher gas prices, the main way they are changing their plans is by making changes to their destinations (including by shortening their trip or visiting a different location). Such a change of venue is mentioned by 76% of respondents. Other ways in which summer vacation plans have changed include better planning or saving to afford the trip (11%), cutting down on the number of trips normally taken (10%), flying to the destination rather than driving (7%), and not driving the preferred vehicle on the trip because of its size and consumption of gasoline (4%).

Can you tell me in what ways they have changed?
(Asked of those who changed their summer vacation plans due to high gasoline prices)

2007
May 21-24

2006
May 22-24

%

%

Make changes to destination/shorten trip/go somewhere else

76

58

Gas is just too expensive/better planning/saving to afford

11

11

Cutting down on the number of trips normally taken

10

12

Going to fly instead of drive

7

11

Not driving vehicle of choice due to size/consumption of gas

4

5

 

 

Other

2

9

No opinion

--

--

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

More Americans who have altered their summer vacation plans mention changing their destination, shortening their trip, or going elsewhere this year (76%) than did so last year (58%).

Action Steps for Workers

The poll also asked Americans who are employed full- or part-time if they are very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely to utilize each of five different cost saving measures if the price of gas stays at its current levels or increases.

Most workers do not plan to take any one of these steps. The most common approach (cited by 30% of workers as something they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to do) is to carpool to work if the price of gasoline stays at its current level or goes higher. This is followed by 23% who say it is likely they would telecommute or work from home using a computer to communicate with the office. Roughly one in six workers say they may walk or bicycle to work (18%), take mass transit to work (16%), or find a job just as good as the one they now have that would require a shorter commute or less driving (15%).

Women in the workforce are more likely than men workers to say they would carpool to work (35% very/somewhat likely vs. 26%) or take mass transit (20% vs. 13%) if the price of gasoline stays at its current level or goes higher. Men are more likely to say they would telecommute, 27% vs. 19%.

Workers residing in low-income households (earning less than $50,000 per year) are more inclined than workers in higher-income households (earning at least $50,000 per year) to say they would walk or bicycle to work in order to save money on gas prices, 25% to 13%. Higher-income workers are more inclined to say they would telecommute, 26% to 17%.

Survey Methods

Results for this panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 21-24, 2007. Respondents were drawn from Gallup's household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample is weighted so it is representative of U.S. adults nationwide. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 515 adults who plan to take a vacation this year, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 138 adults who changed their summer vacation plans due to higher gasoline prices, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±10 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 493 adults employed full or part-time, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/27712/Higher-Gas-Prices-Wont-Spoil-Summer-Vacation-Plans.aspx
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