No matter how much gas costs, people want to see the ocean.
BOARDMAN -- Have you been putting off your summer vacation, hoping that gas prices will fall?
Start packing the car. Prices at the pump are about as low as they're going to be all summer, said Heidi Marshall, manager of the AAA's Mahoning County office in Boardman.
"They're going to stay high," said Marshall. According to AAA's daily fuel gauge report, the average price per gallon for regular gas in the Youngstown-Warren area is $2.17. That's up from $1.97 a month ago, and $1.72 a year ago.
As you drive away from the Mahoning Valley, prices tend to increase, Marshall said. She monitors gas prices all over the area, she said.
"I always fill up in Boardman," she said. "I never find it cheaper."
The Fourth of July travel period officially started on Friday, Marshall said. This year, expect a lot of travelers on the road, she said; with Independence Day falling on a Monday, many people will take a long weekend, and a majority of those will travel by car.
Northeast Ohio is bouncing back from the Sept. 11 travel slump, Marshall said. That, coupled with a slowly rebounding economy, means more people are traveling now.
Change of plans
The preferred destinations are changing slightly, she said.
In past vacation seasons, Orlando was the No. 1 destination. Not so anymore, Marshall said; Central Florida has fallen to No. 6.
At the top of the list: Ocean City, Md., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Hilton Head Island, S.C., and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
"The draw is the ocean, even with higher gas prices," Marshall said.
For those looking for a quick getaway, popular destinations this year are Niagara Falls (31/2 hours away) and Cedar Point.
"We're seeing people buying Cedar Point tickets in droves," she said. "They're buying two-day tickets and making a vacation of it."