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When it comes to taking a vacation, Americans may be feeling better about it than we did a year ago...

Eight-five percent of Americans taking vacations this summer will be traveling by car — and more than four in five (82 percent) will be stopping at convenience stores along the way, according to consumer responses captured in the May 2013 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Consumer Fuels Survey.

According to NACS, vacationers plan to spend a fair amount of time on the road this summer. Nearly half (45 percent) of all consumers say that they plan to take trips outside of their state, and 63 percent will take at least 6 days of vacation this summer — including 10 percent who plan to travel at least 21 days this summer. Is it because we're overdue for some enjoyment?

American consumers will likely enjoy their coming vacation more given that they are feeling better about the economy. Consumer pessimism appears to have bottomed out; 54 percent of consumers say they are “pessimistic,” the lowest percentage of pessimism recorded all year in NACS’ monthly surveys. Relatively stable gas prices may also play a role, as 84 percent say that gas prices affect their feelings on the economy.

“Consumers have told us that they feel better about the economy and are more likely to spend more,” said John Eichberger, NACS vice president of government relations. “Our retailer members are equally optimistic — perhaps even more so — about their prospects this summer.”

While I wouldn't dispute the NACS findings, it's difficult to find people willing to express their optimism. Particularly after the mid-continent's supply problems that have prompted gas price spikes from Oklahoma all the way through Nebraska, Minnesota and across the Great Lakes region, some vacationers might be holding their breath waiting for prices to come down...

But even with the trifecta of scandals that have befallen Washington DC, we are seeing reducing unemployment numbers and a stronger housing market in many areas, and yes, there is reason for guarded optimism.

We hope you'll take the time to unwind for a few days or weeks, whatever your budget will allow. Travel helps us all reconnect with those who matter most. Drive safely!