A summer road trip may seem out of the question, thanks to the soaring price of gasoline. That’s a shame, because the summer road trip has always been the least expensive way of having some summer fun. If you’re thinking of giving up and staying home altogether, think again. There’s are ways and means to lower costs. Consider traveling to a state with lower gas prices, and shop around for the cheapest rental cars, and for gas. You may just be able to swing that family road trip, after all.
In the run-up to Memorial Day weekend, the American Automobile Association reported that the average price of gas was $4.60 per gallon, nationwide. By the end of summer, experts predict that the national average may exceed $5. Meantime, rental car prices have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic: up 38.6 percent in February 2022 compared to February 2020. But if you’re thinking of putting the brakes on your summer road trip, think again. There are ways and means to lower costs.
Go Where the Gas is Cheaper
One way to cut summer road trip costs is to travel to a destination with below-average gas prices. According to the AAA, of June 1, a total of 10 states were selling gas for less than $4.30 a gallon for regular. Here is a list of the ten states with lower-priced gasoline, ranked from least to most expensive:
- South Carolina.
Since many of these states share borders, you might plan your summer road trip accordingly, depending on your preference: the South or the Midwest. You might, for example, begin your trip in St. Louis, and then drive for four hours on Interstate 70 to reach Kansas City with a stop in Columbia. Boonville is another fun place to stop along the way. There you can visit the Warm Springs Ranch, where you can see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. If you’re still going strong after touring Kansas City, you may want to continue on to Omaha, Nebraska, some three hours away.
Shop Around for Rentals and Maybe Rent an EV
Were you planning on renting a car for your summer road trip? Know that prices vary widely from rental company to rental company. Other factors to consider when pricing rentals are location and timing. Renting a car from the airport may be more expensive than a car from the same company downtown. Advance booking of rental cars can also lower fees.
Some experts suggest renting an electric vehicle for that summer road trip. Yes, they are more expensive to rent, but you don’t have to fill the tank. Use the AAA gas calculator to figure out how best to save. This tool allows you to figure in the make of car and your destination to tell you how much you’ll spend on gas. Compare what you would spend on a gas-powered rental with an EV rental. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.
Worried about finding charging stations for a rented EV? That issue is slowly becoming less of a problem. Many hotels and vacation rentals have begun to offer EV charging, often at no cost.
Price of a rental still too high? Try one of the smaller alternative rental companies, for example Turo or Getaround. With an alternative rental company, you may be able to book a car directly from the owner, cutting your costs significantly.
Scout Out Bargain Gas Prices
If you’re set on driving your gas-powered car, check out prices at local gas stations. Prices can vary, and you may just find a bargain. Apps like GasBuddy are a big help for this purpose, as they do the job of tracking local prices, and guiding you to the least expensive gas station in your vicinity.
Another way to save money on gas, is to drive more efficiently. Believe it or not, the way you speed up and brake has an impact on how much gas you use. Intentional driving is the responsible way to travel by car.
In short, don’t let high gas prices keep you home. Take that summer road trip, but drive carefully, choosing destinations with lower gas prices or rent an EV. You worked hard all year and you deserve that trip. With a bit of advanced planning it is more than possible to make that summer road trip a reality, in spite of high prices at the pump.