Gas prices force some to change their summer travel plans, while others reluctantly take a financial hit
School is out and Canadians are officially in summer vacation mode – and while the pressures of rising inflation aren’t stopping everyone from taking summer trips, those hitting the road are facing painful prices at the pump.
This includes Marina Furlani, who stopped a few days ago with her family east of Winnipeg to take a photo of a sign marking the longitudinal center of Canada.
« We tried to find [lower] gas costs, but it was a little difficult, » she said. “It’s a lot more than we thought we’d spend.
Moving from Montreal to Edmonton in an SUV and a U-Haul, Furlani said the family was forced to fill up both gas tanks about every three hours.
She found some comfort in knowing they were heading west, where gas prices are slightly cheaper – an average of 188.1 cents per liter in Alberta heading into the long end of Canada Day week, compared to 212.4 in Quebec, according to the Canadian Automobile Association.
« It’s a relief, » she said, but « it doesn’t change much, but it still costs us a lot. »
Kelly Baranieski also took the financial hit.
Her family drove two vehicles from Toronto to see her family: first to Winnipeg, then to northern Saskatchewan, then to Canmore and Waterton in Alberta, before returning home to Ontario.
« We have family on the Prairies and it’s really important to us…that our kids meet our family in person, especially as our family gets older or different things have happened throughout COVID, » said Baranieski.
It cost about $130 to refuel each vehicle each time they had to stop along the way, she said.
That cost is significant, « but not enough not to do so, » Baranieski said.
« It’s not a pleasure trip – I mean, we’re going to have an amazing time – but we’re doing it to stop and see family. »
The national average gas price over the past week has been $2, according to the CAA. It may not interrupt everyone’s summer plans, but it definitely changes the equation for some.
CAA Southern Ontario recently surveyed its members about gas prices and their summer travel plans.
“Affordability is a priority,” said Kaitlynn Furse, CAA spokesperson in that region.
« When you start looking at what those $2 behaviors are, maybe it’s about taking fewer car trips. »
Beth Potter, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said that with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, her organization « sees a real pent-up demand for visitors to get out and explore their country. »
“We are watching if that fades this summer,” as plans are scaled back – fewer trips or shorter trips closer to home – to soften the blow to the wallet, she said.
Expensive or not, Vincent Ozenne says he is determined to continue. For Ozenne, who comes from France, driving across Canada and the United States has always been a dream.
He had his RV shipped to Nova Scotia from Belgium, when diesel prices were cheaper in Canada than in Europe. This is no longer the case.
« I came [to] Halifax, [and] the price has doubled in a week, » he said. « It’s a real problem, because I have to cut off some roads that I want to take. »
As he alters his plans to save here and there, Ozenne, like Baranieski and Furlani, says the journey must continue.
« You’re putting me right now in front of the middle of Canada, I don’t have enough words in English to express how I feel, » he said.
« It’s a wonderful country. Wonderful people too. »