Higher fuel prices and unstable job situations are forcing some residents this year to forgo their usual summer vacations.
Vickie Harris has gone to Tybee Island for her summer vacation for the last three years. But, with gas prices fluctuating between $3.59 and close to $4 a gallon, she just can’t swing the 4-hour trip this year.
“Gas would probably be double what it usually is,” Harris said.
A U.S. Travel Association survey found that higher gas prices are likely to affect more than half the leisure travelers who planned trips by car, USA Today reports. Nearly half said they'd take fewer trips, while other said they'd cut back on other spending and driver shorter distances.
Harris said she and her husband have discussed ideas for things they can do close to home in lieu of their vacation, such as spending a night at or at a hotel in Atlanta.
See a list of in last week's Readers' Choice poll, the of which was Cartersville's own .
Harris said they also might join some friends who stay at Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville when they come to Bartow County.
“It’s absolutely beautiful there, unbelievably beautiful,” she said. “You go into the winding country back roads and all of a sudden come up on this picturesque place.”
Spending some time at Aubrey Lake in Cartersville, a new spot that Harris just discovered, also is a possibility. She heard about the lake off Interstate 75, exit 293, from a friend.
“He posted this beautiful picture of his kids in front of this small dam, like the water was coming over it,” she said. “I just want to get out and drive and discover. But, you can’t meander with gas prices.”
A year ago, Georgians in metro Atlanta payed about $4 a gallon for regular gas. And today's average $3.56 a gallon could be headed that way, spiking since December from a low in the $3.20's, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Guage Report.
Kim Barnes’ family will be spending the summer at the Barnes Residence Beach Oasis, which she calls the above ground pool in their backyard.
“We’ll be spending a lot of time there,” Barnes said.
Barnes and her husband own a small trucking company, which is down now to just one truck on the road because of increased fuel prices and the economic downturn. The family’s last vacation was in 2009, which Barnes said only occurred because her son, who is in the military, graduated from IED school in Destin, FL.
“We went down to watch him graduate and it happened to be on the beach,” Barnes said.
The family may have a pool at their home, but Barnes said her kids are still disappointed about having to skip a summer vacation trip.
“They hate it, especially because all their other friends are talking about their beach plans and their vacation plans,” Barnes said.
High gas prices, which have topped $4 a gallon in some states and are expected to reach $5 by this summer, is an issue that's reached the presidential campaign trail, the Associated Press reports.
Despite a grim outlook, the number of families planning summer vacations this year is expected to increase, as more and more Americans are becoming more optimistic about the current economic conditions and the future of the economy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Harris said she hopes she and her husband can resume their beach vacation next year.
“Unless we win the lottery or something between now and then,” she said. “But, if we win the lottery, we may bypass Tybee and go somewhere more exotic.”
This article is part of "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream," our ongoing series about how people in Cartersville are adapting to the challenges of life in the 21st century. You can find more Dispatches from across the country at The Huffington Post.