The Washington Post

Gas, hotel and car rental prices are going up as summer vacations begin

Like a lot of people, I hit the open road during the July 4th break. I couldn’t help but feel a bit cynical about the price of gas I was paying, this recent rise coming as families were loading the SUVs for a little fun and sun.

According to drivers’ club AAA Mid-Atlantic, the average price for gas is around 20 cents a gallon higher than last year at this time. Maryland’s average cost for regular gasoline was around $3.70 per gallon leading into the holiday weekend, and prices were even higher in the District.

The price at the pump was a bit lighter in Virginia, where taxes are lower. Virginia’s average price of gas around the same time was $3.49, or about 16 cents per gallon more expensive than the average on July 4, 2013. That was the fifth lowest price of gas in the country for the period, though far higher than a year ago.

Apparently, there was no conspiracy here to reach into my wallet and deny me an extra round of miniature golf. As AAA put it: “In recent years, gas prices have declined in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, but this has not occurred this summer due to high crude oil costs resulting from violence in Iraq.”

Gas prices are not the only costs going up. AAA tells me that hotel rates in the Washington area are also on the rise, and weekend daily car rental rates in the region averaged $101, a 48 percent increase over 2013.

You can thank the economic recovery, even if the impact has been muted in the Washington area. More people seem to be comfortable taking vacations again.

AAA estimated 1,002,200 people in the region planned to journey 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, a 2 percent bump from the year before. Some 86.7 percent traveled by car, the highest proportion since 2001.

At home, we may be sharing rides, crowding buses and trains or pedaling our bikes to get around. But the automobile is still king when it is time to get away.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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