I’m sick of high gas price hyperbole

I don’t doubt the recent spike in gas prices has caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people.

What sort of drives me mad are the people who say things like “Well, we were going to go on vacation… but it will just cost too much to drive there because the price of gas is so high.  So, we’re going to stay home.”

Now, OK.  I agree, the price of gas is higher, and if you’re spread a little thin already, paying more for gas each fill-up is probably eating into your disposable funds.  Maybe the extra $50 a month you have to put in your tank would have otherwise gone into your vacation fund, so you really can’t afford that vacation because you’ve had to spend more on gas.

But there are people – I’ve heard them first hand, I’ve heard them interviewed for news stories – that are claiming the driving vacation they were planning has become just too expensive, because the gas for the driving on that vacation will just cost too much, so they are staying home.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?

For me, the maximum allowable driving time for a driving vacation is ten hours, one way.  Assuming an average travel speed of 60 mph, that means a one-way driving distance of 600 miles.  My minivan – not the most gas-efficient vehicle on the road, gets about 22 miles per gallon on the highway.  That means it will take about 27 gallons of gas to get to our destination.  Right now, gas around these parts goes for about $4.30 a gallon, which means a one-way gas cost of $116.10.  Not a small hunk of change to be sure.

But if I made the trip a few years ago, before we saw the giant surge in gas prices, I’d pay about $2.50 a gallon for gas.  Then, the trip would cost $67.50.

So to take that trip today, vs. in 2004, I’d have to pay $48.60 more for gas for the trip.  Both ways, that means the gas will cost me less than $100 total for the vacation (not counting whatever puttering around we’d do at our destination, but people putter around on an everyday basis so I’m not counting that).

$100.  People are canceling vacations because of a $100 increase in the total cost of the vacation.

I hate to say it, but if $100 is really make or break on your vacation, maybe you can’t afford to take a vacation at all, and should have been staying home anyway.

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4 responses to “I’m sick of high gas price hyperbole

  1. Yes but what you don’t understand I guess, is that it is costing people way more than an extra $50/month for gas. And people making an average salary can’t afford more than just gas. Food has gone up as a result, airplane tickets have doubled in price just to make up for gas prices. People are losing their homes because they can’t afford their mortgages anymore. Not only because of oil prices, of course, but because the unemployment rate is so bad. People are getting laid off like crazy. And companies are not giving raises anymore, or at least very low ones that don’t make a difference in everyday life. So I find your comment on an increase of only $50/month absolutely ridiculous.

  2. I don’t know where you are getting your estimate because it is costing people on average an extra $50 or more a week. So where do you come up with these totals? You may need to get your facts straight.

  3. Hi Jerilyn, thanks for your comments.

    I based the $50 a month estimate on our own increased expense in gas prices. My husband commutes 70 miles a day round trip, which is a good-sized commute. He does this commute five days a week. Our gas expense has gone up about $60 a month, for both of us. I stay at home, but do a good bit of driving to run errands and go on playdates and all that. So it’s not a ridiculous estimate, it’s our reality, based on very real, and what I would guess a very average amount of driving. Granted, he drives a Honda Civic to work — he’s not doing his giant commute in a giant vehicle. He has to fill his tank once every six-seven work days, and it costs him about $47 today to fill up that tank. Three years ago, the same fill-up cost him $28. If he ends up filling three times a month, that’s $57 more a month for his car.

    I used the $50 estimate because most people don’t have to commute like my husband does. But that monthly estimate wasn’t really the point of my post.

    If a two-vehicle, two-job family is driving around two big SUVs that get 17 MPG, then sure their expenses have gone up way more than ours. I really don’t have much sympathy for that situation.

    My numbers will never be realistic for everyone, because everyone’s situation is different. It was just an example.

    Don’t even get me started on the mortgage crisis.

  4. girlfriend, I am with you. I was listening to a friend grumble t’other day about it costing her $100 to drive to Baltimore (5 hrs) and back to visit family. In the, “Well, it’s costing us A HUNDRED DOLLARS, but we’re still doing it” vein. And I thought, okay, but it’s not as though it was FREE when you took the trip all the other times…. right??

    One effect of the hyperbole which I see as positive is its apparent effect on daily driving choices. We now have 3 people on my street who are riding their bikes to their occupations as architect, engineer, and physical therapist. None of whom did so 6 months ago. That’s all to the good, right?

    Congrats on the home ownership, btw!

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