One Road Trip Gasoline Mistake Will Cost You Time And Money

While delicious snacks, entertaining podcasts, and captivating sightseeing adventures fuel your road trip, it's the gasoline that undeniably provides the true driving force. As you embark on a road trip, it might seem prudent to seek the cheapest gasoline available. After all, driving for days or weeks will call for more than just a handful of potentially pricy gas station pit stops.

However, driving long distances to find a slightly cheaper gas station often leads to unnecessary time loss and, paradoxically, increased fuel costs. Moreover, overestimating your fuel range can result in running out of gas in an unfavorable location. While it's rational to save on fuel costs, doing so shouldn't compromise the efficiency and safety of your trip.

One helpful way to approach this before you even get behind the wheel and start your trip is to calculate gas costs for your entire journey. This will involve considering your car's fuel efficiency, the estimated mileage for your road trip, and the approximate amount of gas required. Creating a budget for this mandatory expense will propel your journey forward, no matter where you have to refuel or for how much.

Strategize your gasoline stops

Knowing where to find affordable fuel can save you both time and money. If your journey spans states with varying gasoline tax rates, strategic refueling can be beneficial. In some cases, gas taxes can increase your fuel costs by $0.50 or even more per gallon — your hard-earned dollars are better spent on souvenirs, tourist attractions, and, of course, snacks for the road. 

Opt to fill up your tank in lower-tax states before crossing into high-tax ones, maximizing savings. Other factors that affect gas prices include proximity to refineries, supply and demand, weather, and operating costs. Still, the gas tax specifically helps explain why drivers on the West Coast pay some of the heftiest gas taxes in the U.S., while drivers down south pay just a fraction of that. Considering the gas tax and price averages, avoid refueling in California, Washington, or Oregon. If possible, aim to refuel in Southern states (Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.) or Kansas, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Moreover, don't wait until your fuel gauge hits the red zone. Depending on your travel itinerary, it may be more practical to refuel at a slightly expensive station than to risk running out of gas in remote areas. Remember, the goal is to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, not a distressing roadside breakdown.

Leveraging smart apps for economical fueling

The dawn of the digital age provides a plethora of tools to streamline our road trip planning and make things a lot easier. Apps like GasBuddy can significantly assist in planning your fuel stops. With real-time price updates from millions of users, GasBuddy helps identify the most cost-effective gas stations along your route, optimizing your refueling strategy.

If you are an electric or hybrid car driver, an app like PlugShare might be more beneficial. This comprehensive, user-friendly application provides a global map of charging stations. It provides essential information such as charging speed, payment options, and user reviews. With PlugShare, you can schedule your recharging stops as efficiently as a conventional vehicle would plan for refueling stops. 

Using these apps and being aware of gas prices across the country can save some dollars without going miles off track or stressing over a near-empty tank. It's all about making smart choices and finding the sweet spot between saving money and being practical. With a little bit of planning and a dash of tech-savviness, you can get the most fun out of your road trip without unnecessary roadside mistakes or burning a hole in your wallet.