July 4th travel: Here's how to save on rising gas prices

·3 min read

Motorists should brace for the highest pump prices in seven years this July 4th weekend, with some drivers paying more than $4 a gallon to fill up.

“Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson.

The upcoming holiday weekend is poised to be the busiest travel weekend so far of this summer with more than 47.7 million travelers expected to road trip or take flight. Of that, 91% plan to drive to their destinations, according to AAA.

Not only will motorists contend with traffic congestion but also high pump prices. The national average stands at $3.126 per gallon as of Friday morning.

California carries the mantle for the country’s most expensive gas at an average of $4.279 a gallon, according to Friday’s data from GasBuddy. (Photo: Getty)
California carries the mantle for the country’s most expensive gas at an average of $4.279 a gallon, according to Friday’s data from GasBuddy. (Photo: Getty)

California carries the mantle for the country’s most expensive gas at an average of $4.279 a gallon, according to Friday’s data from GasBuddy. The Golden State’s sky-high gas prices spell trouble for the throngs of visitors and residents expected to drive to its many attractions.

The nearly 400-mile journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco is the No. 1 most popular road trip for the July 4th weekend based on rental car bookings, according to Hopper. The 120-mile route separating Los Angeles from San Diego is Hopper’s fifth most popular destination based on hotel bookings less than 250 miles away. The state’s theme park capital of Anaheim also ranked No. 2 on AAA’s most popular destinations list for the holiday weekend.

Nationwide traffic will “increase about 15% over normal,” said Bob Pishue, INRIX’s transportation analyst, in a press release. But the country’s most trafficked roads can be skirted if you know when to leave and what corridors to avoid. Pishue’s advice is to “avoid traveling on Thursday and Friday afternoon, along with Monday mid-day.”

Ways to maximize your gas tank

If you own more than one car or are renting a car, AAA says to use the most fuel-efficient vehicle for long hauls. (Photo: Getty)
If you own more than one car or are renting a car, AAA says to use the most fuel-efficient vehicle for long hauls. (Photo: Getty)

To make the most of your full tank, AAA shared its tips for economizing fuel.

  • Take your foot off of the gas and observe the speed limit. Drag and wind resistance cripple fuel reserves when speeds exceed 50 mph.

  • Repeated hard braking and acceleration drain a gas tank, so avoid it when possible.

  • Extended idling, either while in traffic or warming up the engine, wastes fuel. AAA suggests shutting off the engine to save fuel if your vehicle will be stopped for longer than a minute.

  • Engage cruise control when appropriate to save fuel by maintaining a consistent speed.

  • If you own more than one car or are renting a car, opt for the most fuel-efficient model for long hauls.

  • Blasting the air conditioning might seem like a necessity to cool off in some climates, but open windows are friendlier to your gas tank.

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Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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