Can you imagine the days when automobiles were new and families used to pile in for Sunday afternoon drives through the country? It sounds quaint and a little cliché, but it was a popular form of entertainment when there was little else to do. This was before the oil crisis and the ever-increasing cost of gas. Now if you are planning on driving anywhere, you are likely to ask yourself, “how much gas for my trip?” Including gas expenses as part of your vacation planning is critical to ensuring that you will be fully prepared for the total cost of your trip. Fortunately, it is easy to determine how much money you need to put aside to pay for gas, and a few strategies that can help you to maximize your vacation budget.
What Impacts Gas Costs?
There is no one answer to how much you will pay for gas while driving on your trip. Many factors impact the amount of gas that you will need, including the make and model of car that you will be driving, the terrain on which you will be traveling, and the time of year of your vacation.
Watch any television commercial for cars and you will notice that a big selling point is the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating. The MPG is the average number of miles that the car can travel on a single gallon of gas. Each car has two numbers associated with it: highway and city. This is because your car will be able to go further on a gallon of gas on the highway than in the city. City driving involves a lot of stop-and-go, which requires much more gas than driving in a straight pattern.
Generally, older cars and large vehicles will have lower gas mileage than newer and compact models. You will also notice a decrease in gas mileage capabilities when your car has a heavy load. This can be important when planning for a vacation because you are more likely to have several people, or heavy luggage, in your vehicle.
Similar to the stop-and-go pattern that requires your car to use more gas, driving in an area that has an uneven terrain, including rough roads and especially hills, will strain the gas efficiency of your vehicle. Going uphill drains your gas tank.
The time of year that you choose to travel will also make an impact on how much gas you will need. Heating your car simply utilizes the heat already generated by the car, but air conditioning is a notorious gas-guzzler.
How Much Gas for My Trip?
So how do you take all of that information and determine how much to budget for gas during your trip? Luckily there are websites such as www.costtodrive.com that allow you to plug variables into a gas calculator. You will be asked where your trip will begin, where you are going, and the year, make, and model of your car. Within just a few seconds the site will give you an estimation of the cost of your trip.
For reference, the site will also tell you the total distance of your trip and how long it will probably take you to drive. The details of your estimate will include how many gallons of gas will be needed by your particular vehicle and the approximate gas price-per-gallon that was used in the calculation. For the ultimate in convenience and planning, there is also a review of where you will likely need to fill up your gas tank, how far you will have driven, and the cost of that fill-up.
An example of what you will learn from this calculator:
Richmond, Virginia to Orlando, Florida
1999 Toyota Corolla
744 miles in 12 hours and 9 minutes
Starting with a full tank of 13 gallons
Add 10.19 gallons in Colleton Co, South Carolina after 397 miles
How much gas for my trip? $77.53
How Can I Save Money?
It is important that you remember that the results of a gas calculator are only an estimation and won’t take into account things like traffic, weather, unexpected detours, price spikes or other factors. You should take this approximation and add a buffer to ensure that you won’t be stuck a quarter of a tank short with nothing left in your budget.
The amount of money that you will need to spend on gas for your trip may come as a shock, but there are ways that you can reduce your spending. If you have an older vehicle, one that is not in good condition, or a very large model, you could actually save money by renting something more gas efficient. You should also drive with the windows up, as the drag caused by open windows reduces gas efficiency. Keep your use of the air conditioner to a minimum, and only pack as much as you absolutely need to keep the weight in your car down.
“How much gas for my trip?” should be a part of your earliest planning so that you aren’t surprised when you are ready to go.