Gas prices declining as travelers prepare for Labor Day holiday week

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Travel is expected to be up from last year during the Labor Day holiday, just in time to take advantage of declining gas prices.

Gas prices decreased for the first time in more than a month on Monday, dropping 4 cents to a nationwide average of $3.78 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.

While prices are up 5.8 cents from earlier this summer, they are 70.7 center lower than last year on average.

GasBuddy warned the the relief may not last.

“The drop may be short-lived, as one of the nation’s largest refineries partially shut last week after a fire at a storage tank, and as we see more tropical activity that could lead to further disruption,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

“While GasBuddy is closely monitoring Florida for challenges related to (Hurricane) Idalia and is prepared to activate the fuel availability tracker, the rest of the nation could see gas price declines reversing pending the outcome of refinery issues that continue to put upward pressure on wholesale gasoline prices.”

The median national gas price was $3.63 per gallon on Tuesday, about 50 cents more than the cheapest gas stations in the Dayton area. As of Tuesday, GasBuddy showed multiple gas stations in the Dayton region selling a gallon for less than $3.20 a gallon. One gas station, a Marathon in New Lebanon, was listed at $3.09.

Regardless of gas prices, AAA said travel is expected to be up from the previous year.

While most Labor Day travelers are driving, AAA data showed an increased in flight, hotel, rental car and cruise bookings compared to 2022.

“Whether you are hitting the road, headed to the airport or getting ready to set to sail over the holiday weekend, travelers should expect a lot of company and plan accordingly,” says Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson. “Drivers, in particular, should ensure their vehicles are road ready, especially given the toll summer heat can take on batteries and tires.”

The busiest time to be on the road is expected to be from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday.

Hitchens encouraged drivers with flexibility to hit the road during off-peak hours — before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

AAA also reminded motorists to slow down and move over for first responders working on the roadside and shoulders. In Ohio, it’s required for drivers to slow down and to change lanes, if possible, away from first responders and roadside crews, including tow trucks.

Domestic flight bookings increased 4% from last year and international bookings are up 44%, according to AAA. Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York and Las Vegas are the top domestic holiday destinations with Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris topping the list internationally.

Seattle has seen an increase in travelers in connection to Alaskan cruisers. Florida also continues to be a popular vacation spot due to its beaches, theme parks and cruise ports, according to AAA.

Domestic cruises are up 19% from last Labor Day weekend and international cruises increased by 44%.

AAA encouraged anyone flying over the holiday to check airline schedules for delays or cancellations before going to the airport. They also advised getting to the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.


Changing gas prices

Average price of a gallon of unleaded gas in the Dayton region on Aug. 29:

2023: $3.44

2022: $3.51

2021: $2.92

2020: $2.10

Source: GasBuddy

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