Archive for Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Gasoline costs figure into summer vacations

May 26, 2004

As gasoline prices continue to rise, area residents are warming to the idea of flying the friendly skies.

For their summer vacation, Linda and John Carver had planned to make a leisurely four-day cross country drive to visit friends in Albany, Ore.

But hikes in gasoline prices have them rethinking their plan.

The Carvers calculated fuel costs based on their most fuel-efficient car -- which gets 18 miles to the gallon -- and on their round-trip distance of 4,000 miles.

"It was going to be between $400 and $500 worth of gas," Linda Carver said.

And she said, gasoline prices could be higher in the northwest than they are here.

"Two or three weeks ago when I talked to my friend out there they were already over $2 a gallon," Carver said. "I was surprised because we were still around $1.79."

These Web sites will help consumers decide how much it will cost to take a trip:

¢ At www.fuelcostcalculator.com, enter your nearest city of departure and destination, etc., and the site will tell you how much fuel you'll need.

¢ For currrent gas prices, log onto www.fuelguagereport.com. This site gives the national average cost of gasoline. For instance, on Monday, the average for regular fuel was in line with Tonganoxie's prices, at $2.033.

Past the $2 mark

But last week Tonganoxie gas pumps topped the $2 mark.

For instance, Friday morning started out at $1.99 at B&J's BP gas station. But later in the day the sign changed -- to $2.03 a gallon where it remained as of Monday morning.

Nobody's happy about it, said BP manager Terri Chop.

"They all complain," Chop said. "They ask when is it going to stop."

Even so, sales have remained strong, Chop said.

"I've heard people say the price is high, but what are you going to do," Chop said. "You've still got to get to work and get around. I don't think people are going to sit at home just because the fuel is high."

But more money for fuel doesn't mean the gasoline station is making more money, Chop said. That's because of the higher cost of bulk fuel.

"When fuel is going up we still get the same few cents per gallon," Chop said.

Chop said she's heard from people who are talking about flying, rather than driving, to their summer vacation destinations.

But she's wondered, with the increasing costs of gasoline?

"Aren't the flight tickets higher, too?" Chop asked.

Shop around

Jim Doblin, public affairs coordinator for AAA Kansas, said he hadn't heard if airline tickets costs were rising.

"But I don't see them going down," he said.

However, he advised, travelers can shop around for lower fares.

"Some of these airlines are offering pretty good bargains," Doblin said.

In fact, he said, it appears more people are flying.

"We are nationally seeing an uptake on plane reservations compared to last Memorial Day season," Doblin said. "It depends on what part of the country you're in. More people on the west coast are flying because gas prices are higher there."

But, he said, Kansans are still interested in taking road trips.

"We're not seeing much of a decrease in people coming in getting maps wanting to go away for Memorial Day," Doblin said. "People are still wanting to go -- the question is, where do they want to go -- do they want to get away, go to Disney World, or do they want to go to Worlds of Fun?"

And in the process, his clients, he said, are looking for ways to reduce gasoline costs. For instance, AAA gives a 5 percent discount on gas purchased with its Visa Card.

"There has been an increase in people coming in wanting to see what they can do to save money on their gas card," Doblin said.

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