Up until two years ago, the Crosbys never shied away from flying. But recent airfare has been so expensive that they’ve second-guessed whether traveling by plane is worth it.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s preventing us from vacationing, but I would say that we’re definitely more cautious than we were in the past as far as buying plane tickets,” Nate Crosby said.

That’s why this summer, the Layton family of five has decided to take advantage of in-state destinations like Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks.

Like the Crosbys, the majority of Utahns consider travel costs when planning their summer vacations, but very few let it stop them from traveling, according to results from a new poll by the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The poll found that when making summer travel plans, 54% of respondents consider gas prices and 64% consider airfare. Nonetheless, most still plan to travel this summer — only 16% said they did not.

While some respondents said they might shorten, postpone or take fewer trips, only 3% said they would cancel their trips because of gas prices. Almost half said they would not change their travel plans because of fuel costs.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll also found that consideration of gas prices increases as respondents get older.

This trend is consistent with the experience of 27-year-old Salt Lake City resident Matthew Keller, who says he and his wife have never worried about gas prices enough to change their travel plans. The couple is young enough to not remember a time when gas was not expensive.

“I never do the wide-eyed look at the gas pump when I’m pumping gas, because it’s always been too big of a number,” he said.

AAA spokesperson Julian Paredes says that during popular travel times like holidays, most people will find ways to travel no matter the cost — especially after the cabin fever many felt during the pandemic.

“Even if the gas prices are really high, that won’t keep them from traveling,” Paredes said. “But they will find other ways to save money — things like eating out less or spending less elsewhere.”

Amanda Jenson shows her scuba diving gear at her home in Murray on Monday, June 12, 2023. Jenson is planning a scuba diving trip to Mexico. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The same is generally true when airfare is high, according to some poll respondents. Murray resident Amanda Jenson altered her travel plans by switching destinations. An avid scuba diver, Jenson was “100%” set on traveling to Hawaii or the Florida Keys this summer until she realized how expensive it would be.

But Jenson was determined to embark on her yearly scuba trip and changed course to Cozumel, Mexico, where she can go for less than half the price of her first-choice destinations. “If I don’t get in the water at least once a year I go crazy,” she said with a laugh.

Memorial Day weekend travel to be extra busy this year

Sandy Rocker, a big international traveler living in Draper, has decided to travel with fewer people in order to cut costs. She and her husband usually try to take all of their kids on their vacations, but flights were so expensive last Christmas season that they could only take one.

“(Tickets) had to have been more than twice the price,” Rocker said. “It was just ridiculously expensive, and so we couldn’t do it.”

Predictably, the poll found that Utahns with higher incomes are less likely to consider gas prices in planning their summer vacations; however, people across all income levels worry about flight costs. In fact, more people who make six figures said they considered airfare than in the $25,000-$49,999 income range.

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Despite popular discontentment with airfare, Americans are flying more than they did before the pandemic. The number of people who flew this year’s Memorial Day weekend grew 5% from 2019, according to Paredes, who expects this trend to continue into the summer.

Driving, on the other hand, has dropped 1.4% nationwide since 2019. “Gas prices definitely could be a contributing factor for that,” Paredes said.

The average price for regular gas in Utah is almost a dollar cheaper than it was one year ago, but it remains higher than the national average. This is likely a result of refinery shutdowns in Colorado and Arizona, Paredes said. He also pointed out that gas prices usually go up in the summer anyway due to increased demand and gas companies switching to a more expensive summer blend.

Gas prices drop nationally, but Utah prices remain above average

Correction: In an earlier version, the Crosby family’s last name was incorrectly spelled Crosty.

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