Gas prices jump as vacation season heats up

If it suddenly seems like you're paying more to fill your gas tank, you are.The price of gas rose 10 cents over the past week to average $2.62 a gallon, according to the Energy Department.

Over the past five weeks gas prices have risen 55 cents a gallon. Signs that some parts of the economy are recovering is contributing to the rise and there is anticipation that there will be more demand for gas going forward, according to USA Today.

Chicagoans paid the highest fuel prices at an average of $2.92 a gallon, while people in Houston had the cheapest gas at $2.40.

Other cities that saw big jumps in fuel prices last week include San Francisco (up 13 cents to $2.90), Los Angeles (up 15 cents to $2.89), Cleveland (up 18 cents to $2.81) and Seattle (up 10 cents to $2.74).

Although the $2.62 nationwide average is down $1.42 from a year ago, many people who are already struggling financially will find it tough to keep their tanks full.

The rise in fuel prices comes just as the summer vacation season is about to heat up. Many Americans have already downsized vacation plans this year as they tighten their spending, so rising fuel costs could squash even some of the more modest travel plans people have made.

A recent Associated Press-GFk poll found that 42% of people are planning a vacation this summer, but many are concerned about their finances and plan to shorten their trip and stay closer to home to save money. If gas prices continue to rise, many of those short-distance trips may turn into staycations.

So what can you do to stretch a tank of gas? Change the air filter and oil on your car. Check your tire pressure and use cruise control when traveling on the highway. And finally, get rid of unnecessary junk in your trunk to lighten the load.

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