Road trips are getting cheaper. The average national price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas has dropped to $4.36 on Monday, about 17 cents less than a week ago and 66 cents below the peak on June 14, according to tracking data from the American Automobile Association (AAA).
That’s good news for Americans who delayed their summer getaways until August. If the current trajectory continues, Americans will be looking at an average price below $4 per gallon two weeks from now.
Or are we already there? Roughly 20,000 gas stations across over 30 states now offering gas at $3.99 or less, according to Patrick de Haan, analyst at GasBuddy, who tweeted Sunday, “Move over, expensive gas… the most common price is $3.99 across the US, but $3.89 is now the second most common!”
Gas is cheapest in the Southeast, where gas prices are currently averaging below $4 per gallon in 10 states, according to AAA data. In the two states with the lowest average gas prices — Texas and South Carolina — a gallon costs $3.86, on average.
Road trippers exploring the west coast will have to wait longer. In states west of the Rockies, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded ranges from $4.68 in Arizona to $5.73 in California, according to the AAA.
Travelers pining for pre-Covid fuel prices are missing historical context, according to de Haan. “To try to somehow draw parallels to 2022 and other (pre-2020) years is futile, because never have we seen such a massive shift in consumer behavior since then (thanks, Covid) and on top, seeing a major producer declare war. 2022 will not be comparable to any year,” tweeted de Haan.
But how are other travel expenses stacking up? Road-tripping travelers will find that hotels are charging considerably more this summer. The average daily hotel rate in the United States is $157.23, up about 15% compared to 2019, according to the latest report from STR, which provides market data intelligence for the hotel industry.
Of course, how much you will pay for a hotel room depends on where you go. Hotel guests in Miami are paying $204.15 per night, on average, which is 30% higher than pre-pandemic rates. Meanwhile, San Francisco is the only market where the average daily hotel rate dropped compared to 2019, down 4% to a still-hefty $229.24 a night.
Then there’s the cost of dining out. The most recent Consumer Price Index report shows the cost of full-service meals are up 7.7% over the last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.