My g/f and I are planning to fly from Texas to Sacramento, CA for a week of vacationing. We will be renting a midsize (Chrysler Sebring, or the like, it says) car to take us all around the general area. We do plan on heading up to Lake Tahoe, the foothills, and maybe even to San Francisco if we have the time. We'll be driving shorter distances - say only 2-4 hours a day if that - and mostly doing a lot of sightseeing/taking photos.
My question is, does anyone have a good estimation of how many tanks of gas we might use? I know it'll be hard to figure out for sure, but I really wanted to start budgeting for it to make sure we have the funds saved well in advance. If it helps, our driving style is neutral; we both obey posted speed limits. We'll be in the city and also exploring the countryside.
Any help would be fantastic
A Number of factors
As you know, there are really way too many factors to give a solid answer. However, I can provide some help to narrow down the variables.
First, start with the RTA's Fuel Cost Calculator.
Now, it really is hard to say exactly what you'll get for mpg. I'd guess probably guess 23-25 for that kind of car in mixed driving, but you can probably find better specifics, including EPA mileage estimates and gas tank size, by going to a car research site like Edmunds.
One other reminder, the "range" offered by those sites simply takes the estimated mileage times the tank size. Take those figures with a grain of salt, since you'll want to refuel when you still have a couple of gallons in the tank. That is also the reason why the "prepaid" fuel option from rental car companies is also a very popular ripoff.
An interesting web site with fairly frequently updated gas prices is http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx, which you can zoom in to get invidual county gas averages over the US. I usually add 10% fo that price per gallon for margin. As you can see, the biggest determinant in gas prices is taxes -- either federal or state.
When I do budgeting for a road trip, I look at my daily costs, which means figuring about how far you want to drive per day, and then figure out about how many tanks of gas per day that is, how much you're going to spend otherwise, and work it that way.
For example, I typically try to drive about 300 miles a day, unless I'm really trying to make tracks. For my car on the highway (Toyota Sequoia) that's about 18 mpg, and around 5 hours of driving (I've gotten up to 21 mpg with a tail wind ...). So that's about 17 gallons of gas per day. My day's budget is food, lodging, gas and incidentals (souveiners, trinkets, admissions, etc.) If I camp, and picnic out of my ice chest or cook my own dinners, the majority of my daily costs are gas. If I stay in nice hotels and eat in nice restaurants for all my meals, its about 25-30% of my daily costs.
And if you're like one of my friends who only stays in 4 star and above hotels (she looks down on AAA 3-diamond quality), and only eats in restaurants with tablecloths, 3 meals a day.. Her lodging costs are like 90% of her budget.
It is all here....
Actually, the EPA MPG standards for virtually all cars available in the USA and data feeds from Gasbuddy.com are all available on the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator tool pages.
Originally Posted by Larrison