Sunday, May 27, 2007

gas prices ruin budget min-vacation

I can't resist. To celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I have to add one post to the maelstrom of observation, speculation and general complaint regarding the current price of gasoline. Last Friday we made our first trip with the baby to grandma and grandpa's cabin in the north woods. We haven't made the trip in some time, and I hadn't thought much about the cost of driving up there until recently, when we outlined our new budget. I was shocked. Rapidly rising gas prices are quickly eroding the traditional expectation that a family could spend very little money on a short road trip.

at the cabin

Case in point: Round trip, travel to the cabin runs about 540 miles or about nine hours, and our semi-efficient vehicle needs about two tanks to complete the trip. Prior to departure we filled up in the city for $3.13 per gallon; a total of $32 to fill the tank of our four cylinder Japanese sedan.Factor in the inflated cost to fill the tank up north, which on Friday equaled $3.29 per gallon ($46 per tank), and our total gas expenditure was roughly $78 for round trip travel. Prior to the summer of 2006, we could buy a full tank for about $28, ($56 for a round trip to the cabin) so the current price of gas represents a 21% cost increase....

Now, let's assume gas prices do, in fact, hit $3.90 ($54.60 per tank) in the city, as many analysts are predicting. The total round trip cost then exceeds $109 and represents a 49% climb from 2005 prices.

The point? It's depressing to think that at some point we may have to limit the number of times we visit the cabin, as fuel for our seemingly cheap getaway may become cost prohibitive. On the other hand, the scenario described may require us to more consciously consider carpooling with family, which is perhaps the most sensible way to travel, regardless of the price at the pump.

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