Gas Prices Are Skyrocketing: 10 Ways To Save on Travel in 2021

Man filling gasoline fuel in car holding nozzle.
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If your checking account seems a lot leaner every time you hit the gas pump, you’re not imagining it; gas prices are among the highest they have been in years, and up 40% since January alone, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

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The nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $3.13, which is not far behind 2014’s high of $3.70, and people across the U.S. are feeling that pinch. Some of this increase is fueled by the reopening of states after coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns in both 2020 and the better part of 2021. People have begun traveling in droves, according to CBS News, and it’s driving up the price of gas. Also, global oil prices have been on the rise, further driving up the cost at the pump.

While you can’t change the price of gas, here are some things you can do to save money while still driving.

Drive the Speed Limit

If you have a lead foot, driving the speed limit (which, let’s face it, few people do) is not a whole lot of fun. However, not only is it safer, driving slower saves fuel by reducing “aerodynamic drag” according to AAA.

Make Your Money Work for You

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Don’t Go Premium

If you’ve been buying the premium fuel because you think it’s better, chances are you’re just needlessly spending extra money. According to AAA research, unless that fuel is specifically recommended required by your car’s manufacturer, it doesn’t give your car any additional benefit. Check with your owner’s manual if you’re unsure about fuel type.

Use Gas Apps

You might be able to shop around for the cheapest gas price, especially if you’re driving for a long stretch. According to The Penny Hoarder, gas apps such as Gas Buddy and Waze can help you find the cheapest gas near to you.

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Seek Rewards

Some credit cards offer rewards that can be redeemed for gas, among other things, according to The Penny Hoarder. Just be sure to know the terms of the card you sign up for, and pay off your balances so that you don’t spend more money on interest, instead.

Make Your Money Work for You

(Don’t) Cool It

Air conditioning may feel good, but it requires extra fuel just to run it. If you can drive with your windows down and the AC off, you’ll save fuel, says AAA. Keep some ice cold water on hand instead. Additionally, try to park in places with shade, or use dashboard shades to keep the temperature of your car inside cooler so you don’t need to turn on the AC.

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Consolidate

Try to group your errands or trips by location and date, so that you spend less fuel and get more accomplished in one fell swoop. Additionally, find out when peak travel times are in your area, so as to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

Don’t Be Idle

When you leave your car to idle — parked but with the engine running — you waste fuel (and put out unhealthy exhaust into the environment). AAA recommends that you shut off your car if it will be stopped for more than 60 seconds.

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Drive With Moderation

If you drive the speed limit, you should be able to “time” traffic lights, which allows you to simply coast through without needing to brake and accelerate repeatedly. Additionally, when you come upon a red light or stop sign, if you’re driving slowly, you can coast a little to slow down until it’s necessary to brake.

Cruise Control

If you’re driving freeways or roads without frequent stops, this is the perfect opportunity to turn on your cruise control option. This helps your car remain at a consistent speed, and saves on fuel. However, AAA warns that you should not use cruise control on slippery roads, as the function could result in a loss of control of the car.

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Maintain

Don’t forget that cars run best when they are kept up to their manufacturer’s recommendations. So keep the oil changed, the tires filled and all the other basic services that keep a vehicle running in optimal condition.

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Last updated: Aug. 11, 2021

About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

 

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