Gas prices up but won’t brake holiday driving plans

For Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer travel season, the gas tank is either half full or half empty, depending on your perspective.

Average retail gas prices in Macon have increased another 3 1/2 cents a gallon in the past week, averaging about $2.50, according to GasBuddy, which operates websites and mobile apps that track fuel prices. That compares with the national average of about $2.73 a gallon.

Current prices are not the bonanza that drivers found at the pump during a months-long decline from September to January. That swing brought savings of about $1.30 a gallon.

Still, what drivers are paying now is more than a dollar a gallon cheaper than this time a year ago.

“The rise we’ve seen in the national average over the month is showing signs of fading,” Patrick DeHaan, a GasBuddy petroleum analyst, said in a news release. “While higher demand is expected for this Memorial Day weekend, crude oil inventories remain plentiful and stand some 86 million barrels higher than a year ago.”

Memorial Day is the most popular weekend to travel of the three major holidays from May to September, according to GasBuddy.

A survey also indicated that 58 percent of people said gas prices do not affect their vacation plans. All told, 85 percent of those taking a road trip planned to drive more than 200 miles round trip, and 50 percent plan to drive more than 500 miles.

The biggest drops in gas prices since last year have been in Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. The smallest drops from a year ago can be found in California, Nevada and Utah.