Gas Prices and Summer Car Travel

Wal-Mart announced recently their expectations of lower than normal profits due to skyrocketing gas prices. Wal-Mart's core consumers are people in the lower and middle class who often live from paycheck to paycheck. I am not worried about Walmart. They will be fine. But people who are traveling on a budget do have something to worry about.


Normally gas prices spike in the summer but driving still offers an inexpensive alternative to trains, buses and planes. It's still cheaper than buying a ticket to most places, especially if you need to transport a lot of people, but gas prices have reached heights that you may want to re-think your travel plans.

Here are some things to consider and some tips for traveling in the 2 dollar (or more) per gallon era.

Vacation Close to Home: The less you drive the more money you save. Chances are there are a number of attractions in your area and possibly even campgrounds, some of which you have never visited. By considering local recreational activities you can cut the gas cost considerably.

Determine the Fuel Cost: Know how much the gas will cost you on the trip and be sure to bring extra money to pay for higher fuel prices. One problem with fuel prices going up is that everything will generally cost more. For people without a lot of disposable income, that usually means that credit cards get used more than usual. You can prevent that by having a good budget and a clear understanding of how much money you have to spend. Visit for help in setting up a budget.


Factor Insane Gas Prices Elsewhere: If you think gas prices are bad at home, wait until you get out on the open road and have to fill up at a gas station in between towns. Keep in mind that the gas price you encounter in your neighborhood could be quite a bit less than what you pay over the course of road trip. So when determining likely gas costs always add at least 10 cents to the cost per gallon to account for variations in gas prices.

Choose Your Car Wisely: Statistics show that most households have numerous cars. If possible, drive the car that gets the best gas mileage.

Plan Your Trip: Make sure that you pick a direct route favoring freeways over surface roads. Plot your trip out on a map and be sure to bring the map. Getting lost is a big waste of gas!


Avoid Rush Hour: When planning your trip, factor in not only traffic in your area but other cities you might be driving through. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in some other city's rush hour traffic. Stop and go traffic uses a lot of gas.

Gas Saving Tips for Road Trips:

Here are some general gas saving tips for travelers:

  • Maintain a constant speed.
  • Use overdrive whenever possible.
  • Check your tire pressure before leaving.
  • Use the low setting on your AC.
  • Open windows can actually cause so much drag at high speeds that they make your mileage worse.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Make sure your car is well maintained.
  • Don't carry any unnecessary cargo.
  • Note cheap gas prices at stations as you drive to your destination so that you can go to those gas stations on the way home.


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