A summer road trip used to be an easy and profitable getaway. This year, high gas prices and expensive rental cars may make you think twice about hitting the road.
According to the American Automobile Association, a federation of North American automobile clubs, the average price of gasoline was $4.60 per gallon nationally before Memorial Day weekend and the national average has already topped $5 per gallon. gallon on occasions this year.
Additionally, rental car prices hit record levels during the pandemic, rising 38.6% in February 2022 compared to February 2020, according to a NerdWallet analysis of Retail Price Index inflation data. US consumer
But those roadblocks don’t necessarily mean you have to put a stop to travel altogether. You may have to change your road trip plans. That is how.
If you’re open-minded about your vacation destination, consider driving through a region with below-average gas prices. On June 1, 10 states had average gas prices below $4.30 a gallon for regular-grade gasoline, according to AAA data.
Those states, ranked from cheapest to most expensive, were:
9. South Carolina.
Given how many states border each other, it would be pretty easy to plan a road trip through the South or Midwest. You could start in St. Louis and make the roughly four-hour drive on Interstate 70 across the state to Kansas City, Missouri. Take some time for a tech stop in Columbia, which is a quintessential college town with the University of Missouri. Boonville is another great stop, where you can tour Warm Springs Ranch, home of the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales. (Walking tours start at $15.) From Kansas City, it’s about three hours to Omaha, Nebraska, where you can try the supposedly original Reuben sandwich.
about rental cars
If you’re renting a car, understand that car rental prices can vary dramatically depending on the rental company, whether you’re renting from an airport or downtown location, and how far in advance you book.
Speaking of renting a car, this could be the year you rent an electric vehicle. The EV may be more expensive to rent, but it could be cheaper than renting a gas car and filling your tank. AAA has a helpful gas calculator tool that takes into account the type of car and where you drive to help you see the trade-offs.
Hotel and vacation rental companies are also making it easier to find accommodations that offer electric vehicle charging. More hotels are promoting electric vehicle charging as a hotel benefit, alongside traditional amenities like swimming pools and buffet breakfasts. Many hotels even allow you to charge your car at no cost.
If rental car prices are brutally high, consider booking with alternative car rental companies like Turo or Getaround, which may be cheaper than one of the major car rental companies. Many of these companies are relatively new and allow you to book cars directly from the owners, operating as a “Airbnb for cars”.
For example, the cost of a week-long car rental from San Francisco International Airport during the first week of July for a standard gas-powered car like a Volkswagen Jetta would average around $640. Head over to the peer-to-peer car sharing site. Turo, and there are more than a dozen Teslas available to reserve in San Francisco on the same dates for under $800.
If you filled the Jetta’s roughly 13-gallon gas tank twice at $6 a gallon (common in some states like California), you’d pay more than $150 for gas. That cost plus rent would make you pay about the same amount you reserve the Tesla.
With so many variables, it pays to shop around before making reservations.
know where to find
the cheapest gasoline
If driving a gas car is non-negotiable, master the art of saving money on gas. Download apps like GasBuddy, which track local gas prices and can help you find the cheapest station near you. It also helps you drive more efficiently. Adjusting the way you accelerate, brake or use cruise control can have an impact on your gas mileage.
And if all else fails and you have a huge gas bill to pay, at least earn rewards for your spending through a rewards credit card. The best gas credit cards can typically earn you at least 3% back in rewards for your gas station spending.
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