With gasoline at almost four dollars a gallon across the U.S., many travelers are rethinking their summer road trip plans. But with our six tips for gas savings, you don’t have to settle for a staycation after all. Less money spent at the pump means more for the rest of your travel budget.
1. Look for travel deals with gas cards or gas rebates.
Both lodging options and destinations are offering gas-oriented incentives this summer like the impressive $75 gift cards from Intercontinental Hotels Vacation Pay program. You can also search for deals on tourism sites like ExploreAsheville.com and bed and breakfasts though the B&Bs Kick Gas promotion on Better Way to Stay. To ensure the deal will work for you, be sure to read the fine print and understand whether you are getting a rebate, a pre-paid card, or a resort credit. (For other great summer travel savings, see our travel deals page.)
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2. Use the web and apps to find the cheapest gas.
Gas prices are greatly influenced by state gas taxes. A Web site operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, www.fueleconomy.gov, gives national and regional average prices. More helpful are sites like Gas Buddy and Gas Price Watch, which use tips from consumers to rank the lowest and highest gas prices in a particular area. Note, though, that the information on these sites can be outdated, so it’s best to use them as a general guideline. GasBuddy also has a free smart phone app to find the best prices while on the go; GasBag is a similar app.
3. Look for clusters of gas stations when refueling.
If you’re driving down the interstate looking for a place to refill your gas tank, avoid the exits that have just one or two stations. You’ll save money at exits with three or more stations, as competition helps drive down prices.
4. Stock up—on gas—at warehouse shopping clubs.
Along with your road trip supplies, consider fueling up at Costco and Sam’s Club. By far the most expensive places to buy snacks and toiletries when traveling are the convenience stores attached to roadside gas stations. These shopping clubs also usually have the cheapest gas prices around, and many are just off major interstates or along other well-traveled roads; before you hit the road, research the locations of some on your route.
5. Stretch your mpg.
The way you drive greatly affects your car’s gas mileage. Making sudden stops and starts, driving with the air-conditioning on or with all the windows down, using underinflated tires, and idling unnecessarily—such as while you eat at a fast-food restaurant or talk on your cell phone—waste gas and pollute the environment.
6. Fuel your rental car a few miles from the airport.
Gas stations nearest airports and car-rental agencies charge the highest rates. You can save several dollars on a full tank of gas by filling up well away from the airport. But make sure you’re not so far away that you’ll have less than a full tank of gas when you return your vehicle.
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