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$5 gas? Here are some tips to help you save this summer
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Gas prices have hit $5 a gallon in New York City, and rising prices across the nation have many scaling back plans for summer travel. Here's why the prices are going up, and some ways you can still enjoy your summer travel.
Gas has reached over $5.00 in some places and is continuing to rise.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - With gas prices hitting $5 a gallon in New York City and rising across the country, many people are cutting back their summer travel plans.
The reason for the price increase has to do with increased summer demand which is coinciding with an OPEC decision to cut output for the long term. After several years of high output, which made U.S. oil production almost unprofitable in many places, the situation has reversed. A few years ago, prices for foreign oil were so low that they competed with domestic production. It was tough times for the American oil worker.
Now, the U.S. is likely to ramp up domestic production again, but this process will take months to years. There will be no relief this summer.
So, how do we get by in the meantime, and especially this summer when prices are so high? Here are some tips that could help.
- If your trip is under 100 miles away, the increased cost is probably not more than $20 to $40, assuming your car gets reasonable gas mileage. For many, this isn't a deal-breaker and the trip can still be enjoyed.
- If your trip is farther, you can consider ways to save money to offset the gas. For example, packing meals, or visiting the grocery store once you arrive can save you a lot of money versus dining out for every meal.
- Staying with friends or relatives, or finding a less expensive lodging can make a difference. You can also split a hotel room with others. It could be crowded, but the option works, especially for younger travelers who would be happy to crash on an air mattress or sofa.
- Check your car's tires, filters and other components key to ensuring good gas mileage. A lot of gas is wasted by inefficiency. A tune up can keep your car efficient long after your trip.
- Drive the speed limit. Gas efficiency for most vehicles is greatest around 55 MPH. Any faster and you could be burning a lot more gas to gain very little time.
- Drive during off-peak hours, and avoid stop-and-go traffic.
- Carpool, take one car instead of two if traveling as part of a group.
- Use an app that will help you choose the most efficient route. Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps can all help you plan an efficient route. Waze can even re-route you around heavy traffic.
- If you don't have a fuel-efficient car, consider borrowing one. Renting a fuel-efficient car may be a reasonable option depending on the amount of driving you plan on doing. The cost of the rental should be less than the cost of driving your own car, so do the math before you make a decision. Chances are the difference won't be much.
- Reduce the load in your car. By carrying less weight, your car will operate more efficiently.
- If it's a long trip of many days, consider cutting it by one night. It will probably offset the cost of gas.
- Consider flying or taking the train to your destination. Sometimes you can find a deal on a no-frills plane ticket, and even if it costs more, getting there much faster than driving could be worth it. Train tickets are generally a good value and can get you someplace in as much time as it takes to drive, often faster.
- If you are traveling to a major city, consider ditching the car and using mass transit or even walking to get around.
- If you are priced out of travel for the summer, all is not lost. Consider smaller trips to closer destinations. Camping, fishing, hiking, these are ways to get away for a day or two at relatively little cost. Family picnics and other outings can also help create fond memories without breaking the bank.
Ultimately, the fossil fuel addiction will have to be broken before Americans are free from this boom and bust cycle that dominates the energy market. Renewable energy and electric cars are part of the future, but nobody is sure when. For now, we remain at the mercy of OPEC and world politics and our summer plans are often the first casualty.
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