File this one under small consolations: Gas might not hit the $3 mark locally this summer, travel experts say.
"We expect the rate of increase to start to diminish to the point where eventually we'll start to see this flatten out and possibly could go down," said Gregg Laskoski, of AAA travel agency. He said the average price could peak at $2.90 a gallon.
Mr. Laskoski said analysts aren't sure when to expect peak prices, but summer is likely.
He said the latest increase has been partly a result of the weakening dollar, which spurred investments in oil, increasing its cost.
The rising prices are keeping many closer to home this vacation season.
"People aren't going as far away," said Pamela Bugg, the owner of Little River Marina and Family Resort in Appling. She said she's seen an increase in campers and boaters.
"They've said, 'Well, we were going to go to the beach, but we just decided to come to the lake,' " she said.
Mistletoe State Park in Appling and Columbia County's Wildwood Park say they're experiencing the same trend.
"We are seeing a good bit of traffic," said Wildwood coordinator Jeb Bell, who agreed it's partly because people are trying to save money.
Mistletoe worker Brenda Bettross said the park has seen far more locals than out-of-town visitors booking cottages for seven-day spans.
Mr. Laskoski said many people still are traveling this summer, but "a lot of those people are really watching the family budget.
"So to please everyone, they've got to take the vacation. But they're also going to try to travel a little closer to their own backyard," he said.
Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org