PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Once the last school bell rang Friday kids and their families were officially on spring break. And many of them hit the road in search of sunny skies and sandy beaches on the Florida and Alabama coastlines. But before their vacation can start, they have to shell out some cash at the gas pump.
If you were anywhere near Highway 431, you know that traffic was a headache and it was nearly impossible to get in and out of a gas station. That's because families are traveling through the valley for their spring break.
The traffic, the long lines and the prices say it all: People are heading out for spring break.
"A lot of people are coming in on spring break and buying a lot of chips, beverages, energy drinks and gas, going to Panama City Beach," said gas station cashier Randy Clark.
He has had a steady stream of customers all day, but the gas station was prepared for the pop, "We don't bring in more staff, we just order a lot of extra merchandise."
Customers are seeing a change in the prices at the pumps.
Joseph Thompson said, "They've gone up about three or four cents a day. And traffic is really bad too."
Tequan Alexander added, "You see I only put $4 in here. That is ridiculous, $3.45. I only got one gallon, one stinkin' gallon!"
Once you add fuel costs to a spring break trip, some say they don't have enough to actually enjoy their vacation. People like Alexander who is spending his spring break working, "I just can't afford to go to Florida. The gas is too high and they want too much for the condos. I just can't do it."
While most people were migrating south, we caught up with one family who just finished spending their time at the beach, and money at the pumps. Bill Loeding told News Leader Nine, "As we go farther north it's getting more expensive. Wait until you get down here and then get gas. In Florida it was $3.65 a gallon so this is a good area gas price-wise. If you're farther south, you'll probably pay more because of tourists."
Besides gas prices, the Loedings say their best advice for spring breakers is, "Sunscreen! It was pretty sunny out. Even if it is cloudy, use sunscreen."
If you aren't heading to the beach for spring break, there are still plenty of great things to do around the valley, plus I hear we'll have great weather for it. The best part about staying at home? You won't have to fill up the tank to enjoy it.