How to Plan a Road Trip With Gas Stations

Planning a road trip and stopping at the lowest-priced gas stations can save you money.
Planning a road trip and stopping at the lowest-priced gas stations can save you money. (Image: Jordan Siemens/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Road trips sound like fun to most people, and they usually are, but the cost of a road trip isn’t fun. You can lessen the damage to your wallet by planning out your road trip and stopping at select cities for gas. Online tools can pinpoint the lowest gas station price in a selected city, so there’s no need to fill up at a station that’s 10 cents higher than one just down the street.

Find out how many miles you can get on one tank of gas. Fill your gas tank to full, and reset your car’s trip odometer. Drive your car until the “Gasoline” light turns on, or until you are almost at “E” if your car does not have a gasoline alert light. Look at the odometer and write down the number of miles you traveled.

Use a GPS or online map website to plot out your road trip. Mark down which cities you plan on stopping in to fill your car’s tank. Pay attention to how many miles it takes to get to each city; don’t plan on stopping at a city that is 50 miles further than you can travel on one tank of gas. Most GPS devices and online map websites will show you how many miles it takes to get to a certain point on the map.

Use an online gas finder to find the cheapest gas stations at the cities you plan to stop at. Online gas finders, such as MSN Auto’s local gas prices, GasBuddy’s national gas station locator and MapQuest’s gas prices locator will give you the prices and stations for your desired city. Bring along a laptop or cell phone with Internet capabilities to view updated gas prices, because the prices you see when you embark on your road trip may be different than when you stop at the first city to get gas.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stop at least 30 to 50 miles before your gasoline light typically comes on. The exact miles you get with one tank of gas vary with driving conditions, city and highway traveling and your speed.
  • Online gas station prices may lag behind by a few hours, and may not reflect the exact gas prices if the prices recently changed.

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