A summer road trip used to be a cost-effective, easy getaway. This year, soaring gas prices and expensive rental cars might make you think twice about hitting the road.
According to the American Automobile Association, the average gas price was $4.60 per gallon nationally before Memorial Day weekend. Some experts believe the national average might even top $5 later in the summer. In Missouri regular gas sold for an average of $4.67 on June 13, which was nearly 70% higher than the previous year.
Plus, rental car prices hit record highs during the pandemic, up 38.6% in February 2022 versus February 2020, according to a NerdWallet analysis of U.S. Consumer Price Index inflation data.
Although prices have continued to balloon across the country, Missouri and Kansas still have some of the lowest prices nationwide. According to AAA, both states ranked in the top ten states with the lowest gas prices, with Kansas at third cheapest in the country.
Mike Stellern, professor of economics at Rockhurst University, cited several factors that have contributed to higher prices, in an interview with Flatlands.
“Given the fact that we’ve got the war between Russia and Ukraine, this has seriously impacted what Russia has been able to send out to the rest of the world,” Stellern said. “And this 10% decrease is impacting what is happening in the United States.”
“Secondly, after the pandemic, people are returning to the office environment and starting to travel. This is a tremendous increase in the gasoline demand. And this increase is causing the price of a gallon of gasoline to just soar.”
If you are planning to travel for a summer vacation some things to consider:
Be strategic about rental cars
If you’re renting a car, understand that rental car prices can vary dramatically depending on the rental company, whether you’re renting from an airport location versus downtown, and how far in advance you book.
This might be the year you rent an electric vehicle. The EV may have a more expensive rental price, but it could be cheaper than renting a gas-powered car and filling its tank. AAA has a helpful gas calculator tool that factors in the type of car and where you’re driving to help you see the trade-offs.
Know where to find the cheapest gas
If driving a gas-powered car is non-negotiable, master the art of saving money on gas. Download apps like GasBuddy, which track local gas prices and can help guide you to the cheapest station near you. It also helps to drive more efficiently. Adjusting how you speed up, brake or use cruise control can have an impact on your gas usage.
Carpool or use other transportation if the option is available
Carpooling to work can be a great way to save on daily commuting and gas prices. If you are planning on vacationing with a large group of people, discuss carpooling options to limit the number of vehicles. Keeping a lower number of vehicles will help everyone’s wallets and reduce exhaust emissions in the environment.