It's just lousy timing. The U.S. Energy Information Administration announces that gasoline prices have hit a seven-month high, just as travelers are wrapping up their spring break escapades and planning for their summer vacations.

The pain at the pump averaged $2.80 per gallon during the week, marking the 10th consecutive week of higher fuel costs.

More money in your tank means less money to spend. We're already seeing that in the casual dining industry, even though companies like Panera (NASDAQ:PNRA) and Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB) are blaming the shortfall on the weather.

You won't find that kind of scapegoat in the travel industry. A purveyor of self-enclosed destinations like Great Wolf Resorts (NASDAQ:WOLF) won't be able to point to the weather when it comes to its indoor water parks. A regional amusement park chain like Six Flags (NYSE:SIX) can -- and has -- faulted the weather for a soggy season in the past, yet that didn't stop Six Flags from using gasoline rebates to woo park visitors during last May's fuel spike.

And think about it. Six Flags and Great Wolf are chains that draw mostly from the local community. If high gas prices can weigh heavy on them, just imagine what they can do to distance-based alternatives like Disney (NYSE:DIS) or Hilton Hotels (NYSE:HLT).

So keep watching those fuel prices. Sure, you're going to do it anyway as a consumer. However, start doing so as an investor, because costly gas station treks are one way to keep prospective travelers closer to home over the seasonally potent summer.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz hit four indoor water park resorts this past summer. None of them was Great Wolf, though. He does own shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy.