Heading into peak summer driving season, which begins Memorial Day weekend, gas prices show no signs of slowing down.
The national average for unleaded gasoline hit a new high of $4.59 a gallon on Wednesday, with all 50 states above $4 a gallon, AAA data shows. Gas prices are now $1.56 higher than a year ago and $1.05 higher than when the war in Ukraine began in February, according to AAA spokesman Andrew Gross.
“That sent shock waves through the oil market that have kept oil costs high,” he said. “Meanwhile, nationally, demand for seasonal gasoline is rising as more drivers hit the road, despite the pain they face paying at the pump.”
Although higher prices may prompt vacationers to make fewer trips and travel shorter distances, AAA predicts that more than 39 million people will leave this Memorial Day weekend.
There’s still an urge to travel, according to GasBuddy’s Summer Travel survey.
“We found that 58% of Americans plan to hit the road for a trip this summer, up from 57% last year, even in the face of the highest gas prices in history,” said Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis at GasBuddy.
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“What we do notice is that motorists will be traveling slightly less, with 65% making only one or two road trips,” said de Haan.
The most common amount of car travel time will be between two and three hours and more than five hours, GasBuddy found.
6 simple tricks to save gas
If you’re planning to hit the road this weekend, there are ways to protect yourself a bit from sky-high prices at the pump. Here are top tips from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch:
Fuel up in the middle of the week. Beat the crowds and save by filling up as soon as possible. Gas costs will continue to rise through the week and will spike on Friday, so it’s best to buy gas now before the rush, Woroch said. Get a tune up. From properly inflating your tires to making sure your engine runs smoothly, a tune-up could be key to getting better gas mileage. Other tricks to maximize fuel economy include keeping the windows closed to reduce drag and setting cruise control when possible to prevent excessive braking and acceleration.Monitoring of gasoline prices. Apps like GasBuddy, Gas Guru, and AAA TripTik can track which gas station has the cheapest price per gallon. This is especially helpful when trying to avoid those expensive gas stations right on the side of the road.Pay cash. The price can be 10 cents to 15 cents more per gallon for credit card transactions. Pay cash to get the lowest price or use a gas rewards credit card to get cash back for those charges. CNBC’s Select has a comprehensive rundown of the best energy charging cards based on your spending habits.Sign up for loyalty programs. Many of the major gas station chains have loyalty programs, which can help offset the price at the pump. Some supermarket chains may also offer pennies per gallon rewards. For example, Kroger and Shop & Stop award fuel points for every $1 spent on groceries that can be redeemed at participating gas stations. Stay closer to home. You don’t always have to drive far to escape. Try the RoadTrippers app to plan shorter, worthwhile road trips. You may be surprised at all the things to see and do within a short drive from home, Woroch said.
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