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4 Ways to Calculate the Real Cost of Taking a Road Trip

Taking a road trip is fun and full of adventure. But it can prove pricey if you don’t plan ahead. While many costs are associated with taking a road trip, today’s gas prices will top the list. Many people want to pack their bags and hit the open road, but are concerned about skyrocketing fuel prices and how this can impact a trip’s overall cost.

Two years after the pandemic, Americans face new challenges to domestic travel due to the fuel cost crisis. At this point, flying is often cheaper than driving. If you want to take a road trip this summer, the current surge in gas prices could impact your summer vacation plans. The good news is that there are online tools and ways to determine how much to budget for fuel.  

1. Try AAA’s Gas Cost Calculator

Many people find traveling in an SUV or camper a fun and affordable way to have an adventure. At the same time, knowing what a month-long road trip could cost you is essential.

One of the easiest ways to calculate the total cost of gas for your trip is to punch your information into AAA’s convenient online gas cost calculator.

It’s user-friendly and can help you determine the actual cost of your next road trip anywhere in the U.S. Estimating the amount in advance can help you budget better and make tough decisions about cutting expenses.

2. Check Out the Department of Energy’s Trip Calculator

If you can’t locate your start point or destination on AAA, you can find a more in-depth trip calculator at the U.S. Department of Energy’s official website.

To start, you will need to indicate the type of car you plan to use for travel. Since the kind of vehicle, car manufacturer, driving style, and other factors can play a huge role in fuel consumption, gas costs can vary widely from car to car.

For instance, if you have a Honda Accord, one of the most popular cars on the road in America this year, go ahead and select the year, make, model, and other features on the website. You’ll want to ensure that you input your exact model specifications to provide the most accurate result.  

Once the website directs you to the next page, you can enter trip details, including where you plan to start, stops along the way, and destination.

For example, if you drove a 2022 Honda Accord from Santa Rosa, California, to downtown Los Angeles (rated as one of the top U. S. destinations this year), the 428-mile trip would last around 6 hours and 43 minutes. You can include a food stop and then hit the “Calculate the Trip” button.

This trip would cost you $59.02 USD in fuel for the search parameters used. Although the average gas price of USD 4.49 is below the $4.71 national average on June 2, California gas prices are among the highest in the nation. If you are planning to travel to California, expect gas prices in the Golden State to hit around USD 6.21 per gallon.

Read more to help you calculate.

3. Perform Road Warrior Math

Maybe you plan to take the scenic route on your road trip, making detours and stops along the way. Or perhaps you’re the kind who likes to figure stuff out for yourself.

If that’s the case, here’s how to calculate the cost of taking a road trip.

Divide your expected mileage by how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. The answer will tell you how many gallons of gas you will need to complete the trip. Then multiply that number by the current average gas price to find how much fuel will cost for your road trip.

It’s a good idea to start by writing a list of expenses. You may also want to camp or use a family van instead of buying or renting an RV to reduce travel costs—factor in any maintenance like oil and food along the way.

For instance, a famous digital nomad who blogs at Desk to Dirtbag recently completed a budget-friendly road trip. They spent just $37.56 per person each day. The total for a month-long road trip came out to $2,259.17.

4. Drive Rather Than Fly

We get it. Does it count as a road trip if you fly to your destination? With U.S. dependency on foreign fuel continuing to strike everyday consumers, soaring gas prices aren’t likely to decrease soon.  

As a last resort, consider booking a cheap flight instead and renting a car when you reach your destination. Swapping a vehicle for an airplane might enable you to achieve your vacation plans this year despite surging gas prices. This option can also help you get on the road to your dream destination without breaking the bank.

Click here for more travel information.

Image by [Dominika Roseclay]

Post Author: Lillia Hall

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April 2024