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Experts recommend sticking to a budget for summer travel amid high gas prices

Amid these high gas prices and inflation, families still want to make the most out of their summer whether it is making a trip to visit family or exploring somewhere new.
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 22, 2022

Summer is here, school is out, and it seems like the best time to travel.

“I want to make it fun for the kids,” said Rosalee Crowl, a Santa Maria resident.

But that travel bug quickly vanishes when you need to stop for gas.

“Previous years, we did a lot. We would go to the beach every weekend. We'd drive up from Santa Maria to Pismo several nights a week just to watch the sunset,” Crowl explained. “We won’t be doing that this year.”

For others, a trip to their hometown in California is worth every penny.

“All my friends are driving me around,” said San Luis Obispo County native Jill Chambers. “We actually went to Visalia last weekend, so I paid for gas, which is a little higher than North Carolina.”

The Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) estimates 48 million people in the U.S. will travel for the 4th of July holiday with at least 42 million of them planning to drive.

“Even with higher gas prices, people are still prioritizing their budget to take recreational trips and especially road trips,” said Doug Shupe, AAA spokesperson.

Gas prices continue to be at an all-time high locally.

“Prices are still very high, more than $2 higher per gallon than what we were paying last year at this time,” Shupe added. “$6.33 on average in the Santa Barbara area, $6.55 on average in the San Luis Obispo area.”

With the spike in gas prices, budgeting is key.

“You can try based on dollars first. It’s simpler; say, I want to spend $500 or $1000 on this trip,” explained Eric Maldonado, owner of Aquila Wealth Advisors. “Percentages, if you have more time, is better. If you have a couple months to prepare, maybe say, okay, I want to put away 5% of my paycheck.”

Maldonado, who is a certified financial planner, recommends using credit cards wisely.

“Some of them give you a little bit of an incentive from a cashback standpoint on restaurants, but I would say focus more on your allocated amount that you have set aside for that one trip,” he added. “Try to stay within that budget. If you get any kind of bonuses or discounts from credit cards or certain coupons, that’s icing on the cake.”

AAA said keeping track of gas deals can go a long way.

“Shop around for the cheapest gas prices. On your way to work, look for those gas stations that are on your way, not too far out of your way, that are selling for less,” Shupe said.

Aquila Wealth Advisors also recommends making shorter trips during non-peak days to save up some extra cash.

Experts at AAA also suggest keeping your vehicle maintained, so it’s not using unnecessary gas to power through your trip.