Will Rising Gas Prices Cut into Summer Vacations?

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Prices at the pump have jumped about 40-cents in the past month. Tuesday, Knoxville's average cost of a regular gallon of unleaded is $2.40, with prices on the rise, what could this mean to your travel budget for summer vacation?

Could we see prices hovering near $3.00 a gallon by the middle of summer?

Pump prices are up, it's the middle of spring break, and many families are now planning ahead for summer vacations.

Fuel experts say it's too early to tell precisely how much you should budget for travel costs.

Vacationers from Indiana study a regional Tennessee map after stopping for directions on Northshore Drive in West Knoxville.

They're looking for the shortest route to the smoky mountains, since they're on a budget.

"If gas is too expensive you really can't go out too much," says vacationer John Huff.

East Tennessee pump prices peaked last year the week of august 9th, when the highest average topped $2.90 a gallon for regular unleaded.

What can we expect this august? Experts predict the national average will not hit $3 a gallon, nor will Knoxville's.

"Gasoline has already made a what we call a summer run-up, and I think most of that run-up is over, I'd like to say maybe a little bit more to the upside, but we think it'll stabilize for awhile," Pilot Oil's Alan Wright says although the price of crude oil is down at $57 a barrel now, pump prices are up by 40-cents over the past couple months because some u-s refineries are off-line undergoing annual maintenance.

This Knoxville actor has already planned his annual summer vacation to New England. Bruce Ribble's budgeting roughly $400 for fuel and tolls, using last year's cost as a guide. "When I get in the car I sit down, and I get a yellow pad, and I write down the mileage."

If fuel price predictions hold, Ribble's trip may cost less this summer.

Meantime, these spring break vacationers enjoy Knoxville pump prices, which they say are cheaper by about 20-cents a gallon.

"Probably Dollywood, hang out and just chill," says John.

AAA of East Tennessee recommends these fuel tips if you're driving to your vacation destination.

If you have more than one vehicle, take the one that gets the best mileage, start your trip early in the day when traffic is light, travel the least congested routes, and pack light - you'll use less gasoline.

So, experts say barring hurricanes and additional Middle East conflict, pump prices should stay at or just above where they are for the summer driving season.

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