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Pump prices make spring break travelers think twice
Linda Rider watches the dollars add up as she fills up for a trip to Panama City, Fla. Friday at the RaceTrac gas station on Ga. 365. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Spring break budget

For Hall County and Gainesville students, it’s spring break next week. That means many families are loading suitcases and children into their cars and heading out for a vacation. But gas prices are packing a wallop. The cheapest gas in Hall County on Friday, according to, was $3.78 a gallon. So assuming a family is traveling in a popular mid-sized SUV that gets about 25 miles per gallon, here’s how much it will cost roundtrip to get from Gainesville to a few popular spots.

Gatlinberg, Tenn.: 143 miles, $43

Charleston, S.C.: 312 miles, $94

Panama City, Fla.: 345 miles, $104

Orlando, Fla.: 489 miles, $148

The excitement of skipping town for spring break, whether headed to the mountains or the beach, heightens as Hall County families pack the coolers and load up the trunks.

But stopping to fill up before hitting the road could curb that excitement — or shatter it entirely. As the state gas price average hovers at $3.84 per gallon, some families are thinking twice about the pending road trip.

“At first, I didn’t think we were going to be able to go,” said Linda Rider, who was filling up on Thursday before traveling to Panama City, Fla.

She and her family are headed down to the beach for spring break, but Rider says they will have to cut some costs when they get there to make up for the rising gas prices.

“We won’t be able to do as much as we want to,” she said. “It’s going to be mostly lying on the beach.”

They usually take a visit to Shell Island while there, but that is something that will probably get cut from the itinerary. Average gas prices in Florida are almost 10 cents higher.

“The gas prices are ridiculous, and I think it’s even higher (in Florida) than it is up here,” Rider said.

Those traveling to South Carolina, however, may fill up for less coming back. The average gas price in the Palmetto State is $3.69. Tennessee’s average is $3.74.

Since Jan. 1, gas prices in Georgia have risen almost 70 cents. The lowest it has been in the past year was $3.10 per gallon in December.

“I haven’t been able to do the things that I want to do,” said Victoria Blalock, a student at Gainesville State College. “I just can’t afford it.”

Her spring break has already passed and gas prices stifled her vacation plans.

“I didn’t have enough money for gas,” she said. “It’s too expensive.”

Some Hall County residents may not be traveling for spring break next week, but do have future travel plans.

Mark Reed, who was filling up his SUV, said he plans on driving to Miami in May. That trip will not be postponed no matter the gas prices.

“I’m certainly not happy about the gas prices, but it’s not discouraging me from doing whatever travel I need to do,” he said.

The lowest price for a gallon of gas in the past five years was $1.48 per gallon in December 2008. The highest was $4.19 per gallon in September 2008.

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