Monday, May 08, 2006

High Gas Prices

Despite gas prices seeming to climb and climb, there has been little drop in demand—which just proves how dependent we Americans are on our motor vehicles. Though prices may well drop before the summer driving season kicks off at the end of this month, I feel compelled to use this challenging time to make what may seem like a counter-intuitive assertion: with gas prices higher then ever, the attraction of the road trip is greater than ever.

First off, let’s keep things in perspective: when you factor in hotels and food and fun and baseball games, the cost of gas is a fairly small component of your vacation budget. I figure that, in my California-made Toyota Corolla, a cross-country trip would cost me 100 gallons of gas. Of course, as the small print always says, your mileage may vary, but unless you’re in one of those behemoth RVs, the portion of your vacation budget that’s likely to go on gas is fairly small. Do the math: even if you travel a long way every day – say, 300 miles, which is roughly 10-15 gallons in an average 20-30 miles-per-gallon car– the recent 75¢ / gallon price rise will cost you $10 a day more than it would have last year. Not enough to keep you at home, is it?

But this limited economic analysis brings me to a more important point: Why waste those very expensive gallons of gas just to power down the Interstate, when you could be burning up that precious fossil fuel cruising along some country road or scenic old highway? Not only will the trip be infinitely more enjoyable if you take old Route 66 instead of I-40 (or the ill-named I-66!), but cruising at 55mph down a scenic “old road” helps you get a few more miles per gallon--and offers many more “smiles per gallon” as well.

Enjoying the ride is really the key to what makes a “road trip” into so much more than just a long drive. So when you make your summer travel plans, factor in this (admittedly small) economic rationale, and get poetic and do as Robert Frost did: take the road less traveled. It will make all the difference

-- Jamie

Gas Price News:

* From the US Gov’t Energy Information Agency:

Adjusted for inflation, the price of a gallon of gasoline is higher than it has been since the dawn of the Automobile Age. The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline edged up 0.5 cent last week to 291.9 cents per gallon as of May 1, which is 68.4 cents higher than last year. Prices rose for the fifth week in a row, reaching their highest level since October 3, 2005. The West Coast showed the largest regional price increase of 12.2 cents to 313.1 cents per gallon, the highest regional price in the nation. California prices were up 13.4 cents to 320.2 cents per gallon.

Continued steady world oil demand growth, combined with only modest increases in world spare oil production capacity and the continuing risks of geopolitical instability, are expected to keep crude oil prices high through 2006. Summer (April 1 to September 30) regular gasoline pump prices are expected to average $2.62 per gallon, 25 cents higher than last year's average of $2.37 per gallon. Retail diesel prices are also expected to average $2.62 per gallon this summer.


Americans per capita consume more gasoline than ever before – nearly 500 gallons per person every year. (Dick Cheney’s home state of Wyoming topped the table of gas users, at over 600 gallons per person


Read an interesting overview of how the gasoline business works



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am considering travelling across route 66, we are coming from Ireland and have a max of three weeks t travel and take in the sites, do you think this is doable?

4:01 AM  

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