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Posted On 11/19/2018 17:25:59
Trip Date 11/15/2018
Camping | Hacks | GasBuddy App | Money Saving Ideas for RVers | How to Save Money on Gas when Traveling
When we're traveling with our RV, the cost of gas is definitely a consideration. We've noticed that in addition to regional price differences, gas prices also varies from town to town. By choosing where to fill up wisely, you have a great opportunity to optimize the cost of your trip. Thankfully, there is a great app for your smartphone that helps you plan your gas stops to get the best price.
If you are at all interested in saving money when RVing (or actually even when driving at home), take a look at this post. You'll learn how easy it can be to optimize the price that you pay for gas - all it takes is a little bit of preplanning.
The GasBuddy App
The GasBuddy smartphone app allows you to easily see the range of gas prices in your current area or another area of your choice such as the city that you are driving to. The price information is available in a list by distance or price, or on a map. Updates are made real time by users who post gas prices when they are at or near a gas station. You can also find reviews of some gas stations and their operators.
Know the Range of your Vehicle
When taking an RV trip, it is important to know the range of your vehicle's fuel tank. You may have a class A, a car pulling a trailer, or maybe even a big truck pulling a fifth wheel. Knowing the range, or at least the distance you are willing to go before filling your tank again, is important to planning where you might want to get gas. Since your MPG is typically low, if you are like me, you probably won't feel comfortable just driving until you find a station as no one wants to be stranded on the highway with a big rig that is out of gas.
Be aware! Some vehicles estimate the number of miles remaining before running out of gas. We have noticed, however, that the estimate is not always accurate when towing.
Your Gas Options
Techniques for Locating Gas
We use several techniques as we're traveling with our RV to locate the next gas station that we want to purchase from.
Planning ahead and knowing your vehicle range helps you identify where you might want to stop. It might also help you decide what route to take for your drive. For example, you might want to avoid the traffic in a major city like Dallas and take a more scenic drive around its perimeter. If so, you might consider identifying some towns that have low gas prices within your range before you go.
To locate gas at or near a particular location, my copilot opens the app and uses the mapping feature to pan to our chosen city, and then zooms in. She looks around the area for low gas prices that are along our intended route. We don't mind going a short distance off of the highway to find lower prices, but we don't go too far as we waste gas getting there. She also takes note of the date of the last price update to make sure that it is recent. Prices more than a day old are usually not accurate.
Gas Buddy Mapping
Even when you plan ahead, sometimes your plans change (or maybe you end up sitting on the highway stuck in traffic) and you need gas at a different location or earlier than you anticipated. To locate gas on the fly, my copilot again uses the map feature. I start by guesstimating how many miles until I will need gas by using my truck's estimated miles remaining before empty plus my knowledge that this figure is always overestimated. (Lately, I've been paying attention to my vehicle's estimated full tank range. I divide this total range by 4 so that I can more precisely estimate the distance that I have remaining per quarter tank.) My copilot locates a town or towns on the map that might offer good opportunities and, with the help of the app she is able to compare the options.
Gas Options by Map
Sometimes the gas prices differ by as much as 30 or 40 cents per gallon within a small geographical area. This is due to many factors such as the location of the station, their overhead and taxes, the timing of when they received their last delivery of gas, etc.
Getting to the Station
Once you've located your preferred gas station destination, the app helps you navigate right there. Select the gas station, click for directions and your phone's navigation service will open and provide turn by turn instructions to the station. It's very easy and will make sure that you don't waste time or gas getting there. After all, a missed turn, or simply cruising past the gas station when you are on autopilot, might leave you without the gas that you need!
The Gas Station object has detailed information about the amenities of the station including pay at the pump and even whether or not they currently have gas. You can also find customer service ratings and reviews for many stations as well.
Cash or Credit Pricing
Most gas prices listed in the app are for either cash or credit, however some stations offer a discounted price for cash purchases (usually a few cents cheaper to attract attention). Be on the lookout for these cash prices as you may want to either take advantage of them or avoid them. To see the cash prices, look at the right side of the screen and when you see a green icon that says 'cash', you'll know that the requirement for taking advantage of the noted price is to pay for your purchase in cash.
Additional Features of the GasBuddy App
The app has some additional fun (and interesting) features including:
Challenges and giveaways which can be somewhat entertaining - Sometimes when we're just driving along, we'll enter gas prices into the app to get points that can be used to enter regular drawings for free gas.
An interesting gas price prediction feature - Based on indications including whether prices are currently rising or falling, this feature provides you with information on when to consider filling your tank. If you are not in immediate need of gas, based on the prediction, you might either want to fill up now or you may want to wait a day or two before filling up. This feature can help you to optimize your overall cost of gas.
Vehicle Recalls - By entering your vehicle VIN, GasBuddy will provide you with notices of service recalls on your vehicle. (Additionally, you can track fuel expenses and mileage.)
Pay with Gas Buddy - The Pay with Gas Buddy feature allows you to pay for your gas through the app to take advantage of savings on your gas purchases. While we are not currently using this feature, we may consider at least the free version which saves a minimum of 5 cents on each gallon of gas purchased. (There are two additional levels of Pay with GasBuddy (Plus and Premium). The Plus version allows customers to save a minimum of 20 cents per gallon on the first 40 gallons of gas purchases each month and 5 cents thereafter at an annual cost of $59.00. For full timers and others who use a minimum of 40 gallons of gas each month, the Plus version probably makes a lot of sense. At a total yearly cost of $99.00, the Premium version offers the same savings on gas as Plus, but additionally provides roadside assistance services. For those with AAA, it probably makes sense to do a cost comparison to see which service makes more sense based on individual needs.)
Try it, You'll Like it!
Although this post is about saving money when traveling with an RV, Gas Buddy can be used in your every day life with your regular car to save money too!
So, before you are in need of gas either on your next RV trip or when driving at home, if you don't already, consider using GasBuddy to save money on gas.