Thinking about taking a road trip? The rising cost of gas might put a dent in your budget if you’re not careful. But how much will you spend on gas for a trip? What should your budget be?
Using a trip cost calculator can help you determine what you are likely to spend filling up your tank on a longer trip. Then you can use that information to decide whether it’s more cost-effective to drive, take a train or bus, or fly.
Let’s look not only at a gasoline cost trip calculator table, but also why you should calculate how much you’ll spend on gas and how you can save money filling up at the pump.
Why Use a Gas Cost Trip Estimator
You may think nothing of filling up your gas tank every few weeks when you’re only driving to work and the store. But consider how much gas you’d use for a trip from, let’s say, San Diego to New York City. With gas prices on the rise, understanding what it will cost you to fuel up for an entire trip can help you better budget your expenses.
Using a gas trip cost calculator can help you figure out how much of your entire trip budget will be dedicated to fueling up.
💡 Quick Tip: Online tools make tracking your spending a breeze: You can easily set up budgets, then get instant updates on your progress, spot upcoming bills, analyze your spending habits, and more.
How to Calculate Your Gas Cost Trip
To figure out how much gas will cost for a road trip, you can, of course, use a trip cost calculator. You’ll need to input basic details, like your type of car (different sizes and types of cars burn gas at different rates) and your route, and the calculator can estimate with real-time gas prices.
But a simple method is to look at your route and the total distance in miles, and divide this number by the number of miles per gallon your vehicle gets. (You can check your owner’s manual to find this out if you don’t already know). This will tell you the number of gallons of gas you’ll need for the entire trip.
Now you’ll need to know the price of gas so you can multiply it times the number of gallons you need. Since gas prices by state may vary wildly, you might take an average of prices found in five places along the way. Tools like Gas Buddy let you search for gas prices in a given city, so you can use this for research.
Gas Cost Trip Calculator Table
Let’s use the process I outlined above to illustrate how you can be your own gas calculator for trip costs.
|Distance from San Diego to NYC
|Miles per gallon
|Average gas price:
• San Diego: $4.57
• Albuquerque: $3.09
• Saint Louis: $2.82
• Indianapolis: $2.99
• Philadelphia: $2.93
|125 gallons x $3.28
|$410 gas budget
As you can see, it would cost about $410 for gas for the entire trip. Of course, this is based on an average cost of gas, and prices will fluctuate over time and in different towns and cities.
💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.
Examples of Gas Cost Trips
Let’s look at a few other examples of trips and how much they would cost in gas.
|Distance from Los Angeles to Seattle
|Miles per gallon
|Average gas price:
• Los Angeles: $4.44
• Stockton: $4.45
• Sacramento: $4.99
• Medford: $4.05
• Portland: $4.99
|61 gallons x $4.58
|$279 gas budget
|Phoenix to Dallas
|Miles per gallon
|Average gas price:
• Phoenix: $3.13
• Benson: $3.61
• Deming: $3.45
• Fort Stockton: $3.15
• Abilene: $2.79
|48.5 gallons x $3.23
Reasons to Calculate Your Gas Cost
So why should you bother using a road trip cost calculator? Well, most people don’t have unlimited funds when it comes to taking a road trip, so for starters, it can help you see how much you’d spend. You might decide it’s not worth driving if the cost exceeds what you’d pay for a flight, bus, or train ride.
Even if you’re not planning a big trip, looking at how much it costs to drive on a tank of gas can be helpful for maintaining your month-to-month budget. Once you understand how much you’re spending on gas, you might explore how to improve gas mileage to get more bang for your buck or you might limit how often you drive to save money.
Tips on How to Save on Gas Money
Speaking of saving money, let’s look at how to save money on gas.
Plan Where You’ll Fuel Up
If you’re planning a road trip, use a tool that shows you exactly where the cheapest gas can be found. You might be able to save $.10 or more a gallon simply by planning ahead. There are even some trip fuel cost calculators that will help you plan where to stop based on gas prices.
Consider How You Pay
There are different types of credit cards that can help you save at the pump. Branded gas credit cards often offer rewards that will shave off a few cents per gallon or give you a bonus after you’ve charged a certain amount of purchases.
You might also consider a cash back credit card that gives you cash or credits for your purchases once you’ve hit a certain threshold.
Look into Alternative Transportation
You may be quick to rely on cars to get around, but there are often other overlooked methods of transportation to consider. Whether it’s a bus, train, Uber, or plane, you might be able to save money by leaving your car at home.
You can also cut your gas costs by splitting them with a friend.
Another way to stick to your travel budget? A money tracker app, which can help you keep tabs on where your money is going while you’re on the road.
Only Use Premium if Necessary
Most cars run just fine on regular unleaded gas, which can be significantly cheaper per gallon than premium versions, especially if you’re on a long trip. Check your car manufacturer’s recommendations to see if you can use regular unleaded gas.
Drive an Empty Car
The heavier your car is, the more gas it burns. So if you’ve been lugging around something heavy unnecessarily, consider leaving the load at home before you drive.
Who Should Save Money on Gas
The real question is, who shouldn’t save money on gas? We could all benefit by keeping a little extra cash in our pockets.
That said, if you’re planning a long road trip, you’ll probably want to explore ways to improve gas mileage and to save on gas. Also if you have a long commute to work, you might be spending more on gas than necessary.
Paying attention to how much gas costs, particularly for a road trip or long commute, is just smart financial planning. Whether you use an online version or crunch the numbers on a piece of paper, a gas trip cost calculator can help you figure out how much you may want to budget for fill-ups.
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How do I calculate gas cost for a trip?
To calculate gas for a long road trip, divide the number of miles of the route by the miles per gallon your car gets. This is the number of gallons you’ll need to drive the distance. Then, average the cost of gas on your route and multiply this times the number of gallons to get the total cost of gas for your trip.
How much would 1 mile of gas cost?
Divide the cost per gallon by the number of miles per gallon your car will go. For example, if you pay $3.99 per gallon and your car gets 22 miles per gallon, driving one mile would cost about $.18.
How do you calculate fuel to destination?
To calculate how much fuel you’ll need to get to your destination, divide the number of miles of the remaining route by the miles per gallon your car gets. Then, average the cost of gas on your route and multiply this times the number of gallons to get the total cost of gas for your trip.
Photo credit: iStock/georgeclerk
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