How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Fuel Budgeting

Fuel Budgeting in 3 Steps

If your vacation away from home is like mine, you will have to budget for your trip. To figure out how to budget for total fuel costs including a cushion for emergencies, you will need to do some homework first. It’s a lot of math, but it’s worth it.
Fueling Up!
Filling up right as I’m starting my trip to California. Trail’s Travel Center – Albert Lea, MN. July 2017.
This is an installment in a series of how-to’s as a guide for long-distance road tripping. See the other categories below for more information that tickles your fancy!

Step 1: Figure out what car you’re driving and calculate your miles/tank

Once you’ve figured out what car you’re driving, let’s figure out how many miles to the tank you’ll be getting. We will first need to know how many highway miles/gallon your vehicle gets. If you don’t know what figure you have, head on over to the EPA.

Take the highway mpg figure and reduce it by 4 mpg. That’ll account for real-world Interstate driving.

Next we’ll need to figure out how many gallons your tank is. This can easily be found using Google. Search for your year, make and model followed by “fuel tank capacity.”

Then we will multiply your real-world highway mpg figure by your total fuel tank capacity. That’ll give us your miles/tank figure.

Let’s reduce that figure by 150 miles for a cushion. We don’t need to be running empty.

Example: For a 2012 Mazda3 hatchback, EPA estimates 38mpg on the highway. 34mpg for real-world Interstate driving. I then Google’d what my tank capacity is, which is 14.5 gallons. Multiplying my mpg by how many gallons I have gives me a range of 551 miles from full to drop-dead empty. Less 150 miles gives us 401 miles/tank.


Step 2: Calculating how many times round trip you will be filling up

Use Google Maps to see how many miles it is from your home to your destination, then multiply that number by 2 for a general round trip total mile figure.

We will now divide total round trip miles by your miles/tank from the step above. That’ll give us how many times you will be filling up. Round up to the nearest whole number.

Example: From Minneapolis to Los Angeles is 2000 miles. Round trip would be 4000 miles. 4000 miles divided by 401 miles/tank gives us 10 fill ups.


Step 3: Total fuel costs

To figure this out, we’ll need to know how much per gallon you’re paying. Since there’s no real average for driving through different states, we’ll just use $4/gallon as a nice cushion.

Take $4/gallon and multiply that by your fuel tank capacity. This will tell us how much per tank you’re spending at the most.

Multiply how much you spend per tank by how many times you fill up round trip. That’s the final figure of how much money you need to budget for your actual road trip gas.

Example: Assuming $4/gallon and multiplying by 14.5 gallon capacity gives me $58/tank. Multiplying $58/tank by 10 fill ups round trip gives me a grand total of $580 to budget!

4 Comments on “How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Fuel Budgeting

  1. Pingback: How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Introduction – The Nomadic Tire

  2. Pingback: How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Vehicle Preparation – The Nomadic Tire

  3. Pingback: How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Navigation | The Nomadic Tire

  4. Pingback: How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Sleeping Before The Trip | The Nomadic Tire

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