AAA: Road Trips Take Back Seat This Labor Day Weekend

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Though American travel this Labor Day weekend is expected to hit a nine-year low, the AAA reports the steep drop in gasoline prices could entice more families to hit the road than dared on July 4th.

“Gas prices seem to be giving people a bit of an impetus to drive again,” Mike Pina from AAA headquarters in Washington D.C. told “There’s a belief here that gas over $4 a gallon has a psychological impact (on consumers). But gas isn’t $4 a gallon anymore.”

In fact, the national average price for regular has dipped to $3.69 a gallon, down from a July 17 high of $4.11 -- a 42-cent drop in just one month.

Drivers still are paying 90 cents more a gallon for regular than Labor Day 2007, and combined with the memory of $100-fullups just a month ago, that's fuel for the AAA to predict that 320,000 fewer drivers will hit the road this Labor Day weekend than last.

The AAA predicts 34.38 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home, down 0.9 percent from 34.7 million last Labor Day.

Though AAA predicts that rather than opt out of driving, some families many will alter their travel plans.

“They’ll eat out at cheaper restaurants or even eat in at their hotels, and they’ll look for cheaper hotel rates,” Troy Green, AAA’s national spokesperson said.

For those who stayed home on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, he added, “they might say ‘this is the last holiday of the summer and we have to get out.’”

Americans are expected to spend $157 — 20 percent of their long weekend budget — on fuel this year. Two-thirds of the people responding to the AAA survey say they anticipate spending $600 or less.

Click here to see AAA's fuel cost calculator.