May 27 2011 by Amy Graff
My family will be hitting the road this summer. We've mapped out a week-long trip through Montana that takes us from Missoula, down into the Bitterroot Valley, up to Helena, back down to Bozeman and then onto Billings. We'll be covering about 700 miles.
We hope to make this a budget trip--limiting ourselves to only $150 a day. Sound tight? Yes, especially with gas prices expected to go through the roof this summer.
How will we ever manage to meet our budget goal and keep our gas prices low? We'll follow many of the tips and tricks offered up in a recent New York Times article, "13 Ways to Save on Gas this Summer."
Here's a look at a few of the tips:
GET A GAS APP There are dozens of apps that help users find cheap gas while on the road. GasBuddy.com, offers one of the more comprehensive for iPhone and Android users, with a clean design and estimated drive times to gas stations in your vicinity. Just tap "Find Gas Near Me" or search by city or ZIP code for a list of gas stations sorted by price. You can click Midgrade, Premium or Diesel for those prices. Selecting Map View displays the stations on a map. Another option is AAA's free TripTik Mobile app for the iPhone, which allows users to search prices for their preferred grade of gasoline.
STAY OUT OF TRAFFIC Google Maps, which comes preinstalled on many smartphones or is available for download, offers an at-a-glance display of road conditions in major cities to help you find the best route around congestion so you don't burn up extra fuel in stop-and-go traffic. Color-coded lines correspond to the intensity of traffic: green for no traffic jams, yellow for medium congestion, red for heavy congestion, and red-and-black for stop-and-go. Google Maps Navigation, offered through Google Maps for Android, has recently been updated to offer alternate routes to avoid tie-ups.
PAY LESS FOR YOUR RENTAL CAR A cheaper rental will help offset the cost of gas. Check out the booking site Autoslash.com, which searches the Web for discount coupons on car rentals and applies them after you book. It then continually checks for lower rates and coupons up until your trip date, and automatically applies any discounts it finds. Willing to gamble? Consider Web sites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before learning what company they'll be renting from.
Click here for all 13 tips